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*** Note: KnowYourInsects.org does its best to include correct identifications of insect photos. It’s always possible that we made a mistake, however, so if you see a misidentification, please contact us and we will correct it. Thanks!

Order Embioptera/Embiidina: the webspinners — Examples

Webspinner (Embioptera)
Webspinner, female.
□ Notice the very long thorax (it runs from just behind the head all the way back to the last pair of legs). Most insects an abdomen that is much longer than the thorax, but the webspinner’s thorax is about the same length. Another feature of the webspinner is the two short “tails” at the rear — the tails are called cerci. A few other insects have short cerci like that, including cockroaches, but most do not.
□ Female webspinners are wingless.
Photographed by: Amta Soft. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: India. Date: 7 June, 2019.
Black Webspinner (Oligotoma nigra)
Black webspinner, male, Oligotoma nigra, family Oligotomidae.
□ This pair of photos shows both the dorsal and ventral views of this male black webspinner. Webspinners live together in extended family groups, most of which are female. When a male is born, he lives only a few days, and he spends that time seeking out and mating with a female. Males are rarely seen, so this is a great find! As shown in these nice photos, the male has wings, which have parallel venation. (Females are wingless.)
□ See the photographer’s note below about the webbing (other entries on this page describe the webbing).
Photographed by: Judy Christensen. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Palm Springs, California, USA. Date: 19 June, 2021.
Judy says, “This little guy likes to lay eggs around the edge of a plug plate in my bathroom. It comes and goes behind the plate. There seems to be something over the eggs like a very, very fine almost web.”
Webspinner (Embioptera)
Webspinner, female.
□ The name webspinner comes from this insect’s ability to spin silk. It has silk-spinning glands on its forelegs, and makes small tunnels, called galleries, in nests. Females usually stay in or near the nest.
□ Webspinners are actually most closely related to stick insects (also known as walkingsticks).
Photographed by: Hirah Shah. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: India. Date: 16 July, 2019.
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Photos at the top of this website are (from left to right): potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) — photo credit: Scott Bauer, U.S. Department of Agriculture; ebony jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata)— photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; sweat bee (Agapostemon splendens) — photo credit: Natalie Allen and Stephanie Kolski, U.S. Geological Survey; preying mantis, monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), hellgrammite (aka toe biter) larva and eyed click beetle (Alaus oculatus) — photo credit: Leslie Mertz; Halloween pennant (Celithemis eponina) — photo credit: Kay Meng, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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