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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.




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Mecoptera
        Family: Panorpidae
          Genus: Panorpa
            Species: spp
Identifying Information
Scientific Name: Panorpa spp
Category: Scorpionfly and Similar
Size (Adult; Length): 9mm to 20mm (0.35in to 0.78in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown, orange, black
Descriptors: flying, beak, spotted, hanging
Territorial Map
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Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
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Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
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Mexico
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.