Scorpionfly (Panorpa spp)
Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Scorpionfly.
Updated: 11/2/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Scorpionfly males have tails that look just like their ground-dwelling desert namesakes, but they do not sting nor bite.
The curved 'tail' of a male Scorpionfly ends in a bulge that appears to have a stinger at the tip. This resemblance to scorpion tails led to their common name, though the association is only visual, not functional. The bulging end of the male's 'tail' is its reproductive organ. It is not a stinger and the insect cannot sting with it. It is used when mating to fertilize eggs inside a willing female after courting her with an acceptable gift of food and wooing her with his pheromone.
Females lack the bulge at the tip of the abdomen. They lay fertilized eggs in the ground or inside rotting wood. Larvae resemble caterpillars and eat dead insects they encounter. They go through complete metamorphosis to become winged adults. Some will pupate through winter, others will overwinter as adults. Adults also feed on insects, living or dead, and may occasionally drink from flowers.
Both genders have long beaks, wings with dark bands and spots on them and can be found resting on flowers. Look for them low to the ground in woods, forests, and wetlands.