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Temporal range: Carboniferous–Recent 300–0 Ma
Temnopteryx species Zebra Cockroach Uniondale South Africa 1435.jpg
Temnopteryx sp.
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Cohort: Polyneoptera
Superorder: Dictyoptera
Latreille, 1829

Blattodea (cockroaches and termites)
Mantodea (mantids)

Termite queen with soldiers

Dictyoptera (from Greek δίκτυον diktyon "net" and πτερόν pteron "wing") is an insect superorder that includes two extant orders of polyneopterous insects: the order Blattodea (termites and cockroaches together)[1] and the order Mantodea (mantises). While all modern Dictyoptera have short ovipositors, the oldest fossils of Dictyoptera have long ovipositors, much like members of the Orthoptera.

Classification and phylogeny[edit]

The use of the term Dictyoptera has changed over the years, and while largely out of use for much of the last century, it is becoming more widely used. It has usually been considered a superorder, with Isoptera, Blattodea and Mantodea being its three orders. In some classifications, however, Dictyoptera is shifted to order status and in others the class Isoptera has been subsumed under Blattodea while retaining Dictyoptera as a superorder. Regardless, in all classifications the constituent groups are the same, just treated at different rank. Termites and cockroaches are very closely related, with ecological and molecular data pointing to a relationship with the cockroach genus Cryptocercus.[2][3]

According to genetic evidence, the closest living relatives of the Dictyoptera are the phasmids and the enigmatic order Notoptera. If the Dictyoptera are considered a superorder these other orders might be included in it.[4]

Evolutionary relationships based on Eggleton, Beccaloni & Inward 2007 and modified by Evangelista et al. 2019, are shown in the cladogram:[5][6] The cockroach families Anaplectidae, Lamproblattidae, and Tryonicidae are not shown but are placed within the superfamily Blattoidea. The cockroach families Corydiidae and Ectobiidae were previously known as the Polyphagidae and Blattellidae.[7] The cladogram also shows the family Alienopteridae (originally assigned to its own order "Alienoptera") as sister to Mantodea, but it was subsequently reassigned to the extinct Blattodea superfamily Umenocoleoidea by Vršanský et al..[8]


Mantodea (Mantises)






Blaberidae (Giant cockroaches)


Corydiidae (Sand cockroaches, etc)

Nocticolidae (Cave cockroaches, etc)



Blattidae (Oriental, American and other cockroaches)




Cryptocercidae (brown-hooded cockroaches)

Termitoidae (Termites)











Praying mantis in defense position.
Deimatic behaviour of the mantis Oxyopsis sp.


  1. ^ Beccaloni, G. W. 2014. Cockroach Species File Online. Version 5.0 World Wide Web electronic publication.
  2. ^ Lo, Nathan; Tokuda, Gaku; Watanabe, Hirofumi; Rose, Harley; Slaytor, Michael; Maekawa, Kiyoto; Bandi, Claudio; Noda, Hiroaki (June 2000). "Evidence from multiple gene sequences indicates that termites evolved from wood-feeding cockroaches". Current Biology. 10 (13): 801–804. doi:10.1016/s0960-9822(00)00561-3. PMID 10898984.
  3. ^ Legendre, Frédéric; Nel, André; Svenson, Gavin J.; Robillard, Tony; Pellens, Roseli; Grandcolas, Philippe; Escriva, Hector (22 July 2015). "Phylogeny of Dictyoptera: Dating the Origin of Cockroaches, Praying Mantises and Termites with Molecular Data and Controlled Fossil Evidence". PLOS ONE. 10 (7): e0130127. Bibcode:2015PLoSO..1030127L. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0130127. PMC 4511787. PMID 26200914.
  4. ^ Cameron, Stephen L.; Barker, Stephen C.; Whiting, Michael F. (January 2006). "Mitochondrial genomics and the new insect order Mantophasmatodea". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 38 (1): 274–279. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2005.09.020. PMID 16321547.
  5. ^ Eggleton, Paul; Beccaloni, George; Inward, Daegan (22 October 2007). "Response to Lo et al". Biology Letters. 3 (5): 564–565. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2007.0367. PMC 2391203.
  6. ^ Evangelista, D.A.; Wipfler, B.; O., Bethoux; Donath, A.; Fujita, M.; Kohli, M.K.; Legendre, F.; Liu; Machida; Misof; Peters; Podsiadlowski; Rust; Schuette; Tollenaar; Ware; Wappler; Zhou; Meusemann; Simon (23 January 2019). "An integrative phylogenomic approach illuminates the evolutionary history of cockroaches and termites (Blattodea)". Proc. R. Soc. B. 286 (1895). doi:10.1098/rspb.2018.2076.
  7. ^ Beccaloni, George W.; Eggleton, Paul (23 December 2011). "Order Blattodea Brunner von Wattenwyl, 1882. In: Zhang, Z.-Q. (Ed.) Animal biodiversity: An outline of higher-level classification and survey of taxonomic richness". Zootaxa. 3148 (1): 199–200. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.3148.1.37.
  8. ^ Peter Vršanský; Günter Bechly; Qingqing Zhang; Edmund A. Jarzembowski; Tomáš Mlynský; Lucia Šmídová; Peter Barna; Matúš Kúdela; Danil Aristov; Sonia Bigalk; Lars Krogmann; Liqin Li; Qi Zhang; Haichun Zhang; Sieghard Ellenberger; Patrick Müller; Carsten Gröhn; Fangyuan Xia; Kyoichiro Ueda; Peter Vďačný; Daniel Valaška; Lucia Vršanská; Bo Wang (2018). "Batesian insect-insect mimicry-related explosive radiation of ancient alienopterid cockroaches". Biologia. 73 (10): 987–1006. doi:10.2478/s11756-018-0117-3. S2CID 52270212.

Further reading[edit]