Scorpion Fly

Panorpa communis

About

The Scorpion Fly is a strange looking insect which is found in gardens, hedgerows and woodland edges, particularly amongst nettles and Bramble. It has a long beak-like projection from its head that is uses to feed, scavenging on dead insects and frequently stealing the contents of spider's webs. It lives up to its name by sporting a scorpion-like tail, which the male uses in courtship displays. Adults usually mate at night, but mating can be a dangerous game for the male, who might easily be killed by the female. So he presents her with a nuptial gift of a dead insect or a mass of saliva to placate her - the equivalent of a box of chocolates! The resulting eggs are laid in the soil and the emerging larvae live and pupate at the soil surface.

How to identify

The Scorpion Fly has a black and yellow body, a reddish head with a long beak, dark patches on the wings and a scorpion-like tail which does not sting (the male has two claspers at the end for mating). There is 3 species of Scorpion Fly that live in the UK and these are difficult to tell apart.

Where to find it

Widespread.

Habitats

When to find it

  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September

How can people help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many nature reserves for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife, from bugs to butterflies, fish to Foxes. But these precious sites are under threat from development, intensive agricultural practices and climate change. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife happenings, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and be helping local wildlife along the way.

Species information

Common name
Scorpion Fly
Latin name
Panorpa communis
Category
Invertebrates
Flies
Statistics
Length: 1.4cm
Conservation status
Common.