Fun Jumping Bristletail Facts For Kids | Kidadl


Fun Jumping Bristletail Facts For Kids

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Jumping Bristletails are one of the most ancient insects and creatures to inhabit the earth. Their anatomy has not altered much with evolution. They belong to the Machilidae family and are known by the name of their order, Archaeognatha. Their most prominent characteristic is perhaps being able to jump forward about 4-12 inches, mostly when being pursued by predators. These tiny insects are often confused with Silverfish as they are wingless and have three-pronged tails as well.  Jumping Bristletails are harmless, beneficial recyclers of organic matter. There are around 250 species of Jumping Bristletails worldwide, but they are mostly found in numbers in North America, which has 24 of these species. Jumping Bristletails pose no threat to humans, they play an integral role as organic material recyclers as they feed on decaying organic matter and dead leaves among other things. Also, these insects are more active during the nighttime and are known to favor moist areas in different habitats such as leaf litter, crevices of stones and rocks, most commonly at cliffs near seas, as well as wooded habitats and moist soil.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created many interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other insects including the gypsy moth or the leaf-footed bug here.

Fun Jumping Bristletail Facts For Kids

What do they prey on?

Dead leaves, fungi, algae, lichens, and decaying organic matter

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

0.7 oz (20 g)

How long are they?

0.39-0.8 in (10-20 mm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Brown, silver, gray, metallic

Skin Type

Exoskeleton, scales

What were their main threats?


What is their conservation status?

Not Evaluated

Where you'll find them?

Leaf Litter, Chaparral, Sandy Deserts, Moist Soil


North America








Machilidae, Meinertellidae

Jumping Bristletail Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Jumping Bristletail?

The Jumping Bristletail is an insect.

What class of animal does a Jumping Bristletail belong to?

Jumping Bristletails belong to the arthropod (Insecta) class of animals.

How many Jumping Bristletails are there in the world?

The exact number of Jumping Bristletails in the world is unclear, but their population is not under threat and is abundant.

Where does a Jumping Bristletail live?

Jumping Bristletails are likely to live in chaparrals (shrublands), moist soil, or sandy deserts of North America.

What is a Jumping Bristletail's habitat?

In their preferred habitats, Jumping Bristletails are known to inhabit various decomposing matter, leaf litter, barks, crevices, and stones. Since they like soil, they live near wooded habitats and grass. They are also known to be found on the cliffs near the sea.

Who do Jumping Bristletails live with?

A Jumping Bristletail may live alone or with other Bristletails.

How long does a Jumping Bristletail live?

A Jumping Bristletail may live up to four years.

How do they reproduce?

Jumping Bristletails reproduce by mating and laying eggs. They have peculiar reproductive habits. The males perform a courtship dance and a thread is spun from its abdomen containing sperm along its length. The female finds these sperm and picks them up placing them in her ovipositor. She lays 30 or so eggs in the crevice of a rock, which may take up to a whole year to hatch. After hatching, the 'nymph' resembles adults and takes around two years of feeding to become adults. A Jumping Bristletail is known to molt up to 35 times in its four-year lifetime, reaching sexual maturity after the eighth molt.

What is their conservation status?

The Conservation Status of Jumping Bristletails is 'Not Threatened'

Jumping Bristletail Fun Facts

What do Jumping Bristletails look like?

Jumping Bristletails are known to have hunched backs, like shrimp.

Jumping Bristetails are tiny insects that grow up to 0.8 in (20 mm) in length, including their antennae and tail. Their bodies are typically brown, silver, and gray. They appear coppery and metallic under bright light. They are long and wingless creatures. They have an outer exoskeleton and scales on their bodies. Its compound eyes are big and it has three tails and its appendages are well developed, and they have shrimp-like hunched backs. These insects are known for their 'ancient jaws', which have soft mandibles and just one condyle. Jumping Bristletails are sometimes confused with the Silverfish insects. Another unique feature of the Jumping Bristletail insect is its styli, the appendages on the undersides of its abdomen. Also attached to the abdomen are six legs.

How cute are they?

Jumping Bristletails are very cute animals. Their tiny, almost-monochrome bodies are very pleasing to the eye. They have big prominent eyes and tails. And their peculiar characteristic of jumping up 12 in (30 cm) into the air using its three-pronged tail is very entertaining to watch.

How do they communicate?

The Jumping Bristletails communicate via the olfactory receptors in their antennae. Their eyes detect motion and through smells, they locate one of their species, or food, or avoid predators.

How big is a Jumping Bristletail?

A Jumping Bristletail size is around 0.39-0.8 in (10-20 mm) long, which makes it about ten times smaller than the Goliath Bird-eater spider.

How far can Jumping Bristletails jump?

Jumping Bristletails can jump about 12 in (30 cm) in the air using their tails and their abdominal muscles and appendages.

How much does a Jumping Bristletail weigh?

A Jumping Whistletail typically weighs about 0.7 oz (20 gm)

What are the male and female names of the species?

The males and females of the Jumping Bristletail species don't have specific names.

What would you call a baby Jumping Bristletail?

A baby Jumping Bristletail may be called a nymph.

What do they eat?

Jumping bristletails eat dead leaves, fungi, algae, lichens, and decaying organic matter.

Are they dangerous?

Jumping Bristletails are not dangerous at all.

Would they make a good pet?

They may make a good pet, considering their tendency to prefer moist habitats, which can be provided for. But they play a crucial role in many ecosystems since they feed on decaying organic matter. Also, they have peculiar reproductive habits, which should not be disturbed, considering these are some of the most ancient species of insects and beings to have inhabited the earth, they should not be taken as pets.

Did you know...

Jumping Bristletails are insects that belong to the family Machilidae and Order Archaeognatha, which is also known as Microcoryphia. Archaeognatha however, belonged to the Thysanura order up till the 20th century. Microcoryphia is describing an insect that has a 'tiny head'.  Another common insect of the order is the Sea Bristletail.

The other suborder that made up Thysanura was Zygentoma. Silverfish and the firebrats most famously belong to the Zygentoma order.

Jumping Bristletails are truly ancient and primitive creatures, with fossils verifying that they existed as long back as 419.2 million years ago, in the mid-Devonian period. The middle Devonian period lasted for 60.3 million years, ending 358.9 million years ago

The three sections on a Jumping Bristletail's body are the head, the abdomen, and the thorax or back. The unique feature of the head is the presence of big eyes that meet in the middle. Two long antennae also protrude from the head. A knuckle-looking bone called a condyle is also attached to its head.

Jumping bristletails, owing to the absence of wings, use their strong abdominal muscles to jump.

Jumping Bristletail vs. Silverfish

Jumping Bristletails are often confused with Silverfish because of their similar-looking bodies that have no wings. There are many differences between them.

Silverfish have silver-colored bodies, whereas Jumping Bristletails have brownish bodies.

Jumping Bristeltails have hunched backs whereas Silverfish are flatter.

The compound eyes of a Bristletail are big and they touch, a Silverfish has smaller eyes that do not touch.

Silverfish can be found indoors, whereas Jumping Bristletails are seldom found indoors.

Jumping Bristletails are famously capable of being able to jump their bodies, whereas Silverfish are not capable of doing the same.

Other insects that do not fly include the wingless wasps of the Rhopalosomatidae family. Also, the Neotropical deer ked insect is famous for shedding its wings.

Jumping Bristletails have membranous vesicles which can be turned inside out and help to absorb water.

Apart from the legs, Jumping Bristletails also have appendages that look like bristles on the sides of their abdomens. These are called styli and are thought to have been additional limbs eons ago.

How do you get rid of Jumping Bristletails?

A Jumping Bristletail infestation is easy to take care of. Jumping Bristletails rarely invade homes, but when they do, a dehumidifier can be used since they prefer moisture. Spills in the kitchen should be wiped quickly and cold bottles should not be left out of the fridge for long.

Packets and stored food should be properly sealed. Crumbs, grains, and pet foods should be cleaned up and garbage should not be left sitting out for too long.

Since Jumping Bristletails like crevices and cracks in rocks, it should be made sure that there are no cracks in your walls and windows. This way they can't make their way indoors.

If the infestation becomes a bit much to handle, professional pest control services should be called. Insecticides that dehydrate Bristletails can be used, but it is better to call professionals.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other arthropods including spotted lanternflies and plume moths.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Jumping bristletail coloring pages.

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