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Scorpion Fly Andy
Scorpion Fly Female450w0361

Female

Scorpion Fly (Panorpa Communis)

Male Scorpion Fly

Called the Scorpion fly because of its harmless scorpion-like tails on the males, I always try and photograph this interesting species, often seen in my local forestry commission. It is curious looking insect with long antennae and large eyes with a downward pointing beak with small jaws situated at the end it has a yellow body with black markings. With strongly marked wings so it is not surprising that it is from a group of insects which can be traced back over 250 million years.

I have photographed the females before but it is the males which interest me as it has a scorpion-shaped claw at the end of its abdomen. It is not a sting and is completely harmless as it is used for holding the female during mating. Which it does at night, the male will present the female with a gift of saliva or a captured insect before and during copulation to avoid being eaten only if the gift is excepted does mating take place. this behaviour similar to some spiders offering a captured meal to a female before mating.

Male Scorpion Fly

Adult beetles and its larvae feed on carrion and dead insects and live aphids, the adults will even steal insects from spider webs. I have witnessed a male capturing a large fly, both fallen through a large bramble bush, and I could hear the buzzing of the unfortunate fly for some time afterwards which was probably being eaten alive. Adults can be seen during the summer months from May till September. I will always try and photograph this odd-looking insect in the wild, because of its interesting behaviour and would like to study and film a pair in captivity one day but it would need a convincing set-up.