Image: Web spinner
Web spinner, line drawing. Web spinners belong to the Order Embioptera.
- Andrew Howells
- © Australian Museum
What do web spinners look like?
- 4 mm - 15 mm in length.
- Long and column-like.
- Appears hard.
- Never longer than body.
- Usually small, well separated, and often kidney-shaped.
- For chewing or munching.
- Held forwards at rest.
- Two pairs (males only) if present.
- Both pairs membranous, similar in size and spatula shaped.
- Both pairs have few wing veins but the wing maybe pigmented giving it the appearance that it has veins.
- At rest the wings are held flat to body, overlap and do not extend to tip of abdomen.
- Six legs
- Bottom segment of front tarsi (toes) greatly enlarged and bulbous. This segment contains numerous glands for silk production.
- Two short cerci (tails) with two segments.
- In males right cerci differs in size and shape to the left.
Where are web-spinners found?
- They are confined to silken nests, which have many tunnels.
- The nests are spun on bark surfaces, and rocks or among crevices and leaf litter.
- Due to their secretive nature they are rarely seen.
What do web-spinners do?
- They form large colonies sharing living quarters much like humans share an apartment block.
- When disturbed, they run backward into silken tunnels. Their wings can flex over their head to allow backward movement into the tunnels.
- They are weak fliers that flutter; insect blood (hemolymph) is pumped into the upper veins to stiffen the wings during flight. Males tend to only fly when in search of a reproductive mate.
- They primarily feed on dead and decaying plant material but are known to feed on living lichen and moss.
- They are active during the night and are attracted to light.
What looks similar?
- Nothing due to their unique anatomical features and lifestyle.