Bug of the Week: Webspinners

I found an unusual insect this morning. Here is a peek:

webspinner male

This is a webspinner. It may look a little like a termite reproductive (or swarmer), but I can tell it is not because it has bulges on its front legs. Those bulges contain special glands that make silk. Webspinners are the only insects that make silk with their legs!

webspinner male

This is a male webspinner. It is a male because it has wings and because it was out and about, not hidden. Females lack wings and hide under layers of silk laid under stones, piles of leaves or on bark of trees. I have only seen a female a few times.

webspinner male

Webspinners (Order Embioptera) are small, shy and are completely harmless. Not much is known about them because they are reclusive. Webspinners have two appendages at the rear, and some people think they may be related to earwigs, our bug of the week last week.

I was able to find a bit of video about a tropical species on YouTube. Unfortunately the embed function is denied, so try this link or type this text into search to find the video. Silk tents of the Web Spinner insect - Attenborough Life in the Undergrowth

The YouTube video is a small part from the Life in the Undergrowth movie, starring David Attenborough, available on DVD.

Let me know if you’d like to learn more about fascinating webspinners.

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