Scorpion Fly
Panorpa communis

Scorpion flies are small to medium sized insects with a wing span up to 2 inches in some species. The name is derived from the fact that the abdomens of some male species often fly with abdomen raised resembling the stinging tail of a scorpion. Scorpion flies are often mistaken for giant mosquitoes or crane flies (Diptera) but can be distinguished by the following features:

The insect has 2 pairs of membranous wings of almost equal size. Some species are wingless. The mouthparts are at the end of a beak-like projection on the head. It has very long spindly legs with strong claws; filiform antennae and well developed eyes. The larvae is similar to a caterpillar with short legs.

The scorpion fly prefers to live near a body of water and are apparently mainly herbivorous. Adults lay their eggs in pockets in damp habitats, such as leaf litter and low vegetation.

Courtship is one of gift-giving. The male attracts a female with his scent plume and offers her an insect meal he has previously captured. It is thought this food is required by the female to assist with egg development. Eggs are usually deposited in the soil or moist leaf litter. Some species are aquatic and their eggs are placed in the water. Adults may hatch in spring or autumn depending on the species.

Scorpion flies feed primarily on nectar, pollen, fruit and moss although males will also feed on soft-bodied insects. Some species fly among flowering plants preying on flies, bees, caterpillars and other insect larvae. The diet of scorpion fly larvae is varied and may include dead and dying insects or various plant materials.

Its preferred habitat is cool, moist environments although some species are found in marshy areas. Adults are often seen hanging from low vegetation waiting for a chance to capture passing prey with their hind legs.

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