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Temporal range: Triassic–Recent
Galloisiana nipponensis 2.jpg
Galloisiana nipponensis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Notoptera[2]
Suborder: Grylloblattodea
Family: Grylloblattidae
E. M. Walker, 1914


Grylloblattidae, the icebugs, or ice crawlers, is a family of extremophile (psychrophile) and wingless insects that live in the cold on top of mountains. It belongs, along with Mantophasmatidae, to the order Notoptera.[2]


Grylloblattids, ice crawlers or icebug evidently puzzled the scientists who discovered them, E.M. Walker and T.B. Kurata; the first species named was Grylloblatta campodeiformis, which means "cricket-cockroach shaped like a Campodea" (a kind of two-pronged bristletail). Most are nocturnal and appear to feed on detritus. They have long antennae (23–45 segments) and long cerci (5–8 segments), but no wings. Their eyes are either missing or reduced and they have no ocelli (simple eyes).[3] Their closest living relatives are the recently discovered Mantophasmatodea.[4]

The family has its own suborder, Grylloblattodea (and formerly[2] its own order, Grylloblattaria). It contains 5 genera and 34 species.[5][6]


Grylloblattodea are nocturnal extremophiles typically found in leaf litter and under stones in extremely cold environments, usually at higher elevations. They are known to inhabit cold temperate forests to glaciers and ice sheets. Their optimal living temperature is between 1-4 °C (33.8-39.2 °F). They can be killed at colder temperatures due to ice formation in the body, so when the temperature drops below their optimal range they survive by living under snow pack near the soil.[7]


They are omnivorous, but feed primarily on dead arthropods. When arthropod carcasses are scarce, their diet relies heavily on plant material.[7]


  1. ^ H. V. Hoell, J. T. Doyen & A. H. Purcell (1998). Introduction to Insect Biology and Diversity (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 320. ISBN 0-19-510033-6. 
  2. ^ a b c Arillo, A. & M. Engel (2006) Rock Crawlers in Baltic Amber (Notoptera: Mantophasmatodea). American Museum Novitates 3539:1-10
  3. ^ Richards, O. W.; Davies, R. G. (1977). "Grylloblattodea". Imms’ General Textbook of Entomology. Springer Netherlands. p. 533. doi:10.1007/978-94-011-6516-7_9. Retrieved 2014-12-25. 
  4. ^ Stephen L. Cameron, Stephen C. Barker & Michael F. Whiting (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. ^ Terry L. Erwin (1997). "Biodiversity at its utmost: tropical forest beetles". In Marjorie L. Reaka-Kudla, Don E. Wilson & Edward O. Wilson. Biodiversity II. Washington, D.C.: Joseph Henry Press. pp. 27–40. ISBN 978-0-309-05584-0. 
  6. ^ Zhang, Z.-Q. (2011). "Phylum Arthropoda von Siebold, 1848 In: Zhang, Z.-Q. (Ed.) Animal biodiversity: An outline of higher-level classification and survey of taxonomic richness" (PDF). Zootaxa. 3148: 99–103. 
  7. ^ a b David Grimaldi, Michael S. Engel (2005). "Polyneoptera: Grylloblattodea: The Ice Crawlers". Evolution of the Insects. New York City: Cambridge University Press. pp. 222–224. ISBN 9780521821490. 

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