Bristletail, Vancouver Island, BC
Bristletail, Vancouver Island, BC, Photo By Bud Logan

Most bristletails (Archeognatha) can be found in wooded areas where they are most likely to be seen under the bark of trees, or hiding along the rocky shores of streams and creeks, quite often, they can be found along the ocean shore as well, just above the upper tide line on our island beaches. They are nocturnal and are most likely to be seen at night, feeding on a variety of foods such as algae, lichens, mosses, or decaying plant matter.

Sexual maturity is reached after eight or more juvenile instars, this can take up to 2 years. They continue to molt even after adulthood has been reached.

The sexes are separate, but copulation does not occur. Males produce a packet of sperm (spermatophore) and leave it on the ground to be picked up by a female. After fertilization, the females’ eggs are laid singly or in small groups of no more than 30.

They are part of the community of decomposers that break down and recycle organic nutrients. None of the bristletails on Vancouver Island are considered pests.

Most of the North American species belong to the family of jumping bristletails. They are common in the leaf litter of deciduous forests and on rocks near the seashore. Some bristletails can jump up to 10 cm by snapping their abdomen against the ground.

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