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Zoology Publications from Victoria University of Wellington—Nos. 71, 72 and 73



The mandible is seen to be a cupped claw-like structure. It is not a piercing stylet, as might be expected in an insect regarded as piercing and sucking its food, nor is the head in the form of a flat cutting plate. No locking structures are found on the cone which might serve to hold the labrum and divided labium together to form a suction tube during feeding. The maxillae, formerly described as stylet-like are seen to be hooked apically and would not appear to be adapted for piercing. They are finely delicate structures, but it is possible they may serve to supplement the function of the dentate claw-like mandibles in gathering food. The size of the apical portion of the maxillae, 1-2 μm in diameter, is comparable to the size of a generalized soil bacterium 1 μm3 (Clark 1967). As the maxillae extend beyond the mandibles in what appears to be the feeding position, they would seem suited to rake or sweep small food particles such as bacteria in to the cupped mandibular head. These food particles could then be conveyed to the digestive tract by the protractor retractor action of the mandibles.

The present study indicates that this collembolan does not feed by sucking or chewing its food but it could be described as browsing on the microfauna or flora of detrital material. This supports the view of Adams and Salmon (1972) that the division of Collembola into chewing forms and sucking forms is no longer valid.