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The Seashore

Bristle tail (Petrobius spp.)

Bristle tail (Petrobius spp.)

They are mottled grey, blending in well with the lichens in the splash zone where they typically live. Up to a centimetre long they have three bristles at the end of the abdomen. There are two possible species that can be encountered on UK shores, P. brevistylis and P. maritimus.

This is one of the very few marine insects, i.e. dedicated to living in the littoral region. Having said that Petrobius is found at the top of the shore and if predation and competition is not too strong they will happily live in terrestrial environments (in fact, I regularly get them running across the inside of my office window here at Dale Fort - an extension of the splash zone!). Although nocturnal they will be active when disturbed in the day. They lay up to 100 eggs in rocky crevices late in the year and which hatch in the following May. The diet consists of lichen and microorganisms.

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