Order

CHAPTER

phylum class subclass • order monotypic order suborder family

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Angel insects are small, ranging from 0.08 to 0.16 inches (2 to 4 millimeters) in length. They are long, somewhat flattened brown or black insects resembling termites. Their distinctive and triangular heads have chewing mouthparts with toothed jaws that are directed downward. The antennae (an-TEH-nee), or sense organs, have nine beadlike segments. All three segments of the thorax, or midsection, are distinctive.

Both males and females of each species have winged and wingless forms. Wingless angel insects are the most common form. They are pale and blind. Winged forms are darker and have compound eyes, or eyes with many lenses, and three simple eyes, or eyes with only one lens each. Winged females are usually more common than winged males. When present, the wings are long, broad, and have very few veins. The hind wings are shorter than the forewings and have fewer veins. At rest they fold their four wings flat over their backs. Like termites, they shed their wings easily, leaving four small stubs behind.

The front and middle legs of angel insects are similar to one another. The thighs of the back legs are slightly enlarged and have a row of thick spines underneath. The feet have two segments and are tipped with a pair of claws. The abdomen of all angle insects is broadly attached to the thorax, giving them a thick-waisted appearance. The short abdomen is oval in shape and ten-segmented. The tip has a pair of projections, each made up of a single segment. Each of these projections has a single, long bristle.

The larvae (LAR-vee), or young form of the animal that must change in form before becoming adults, are pale creamy brown and resemble wingless adults. Unlike the adults, the larvae have eight-segmented antennae. There are two different kinds of larvae that develop into winged or wingless adults.

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