Scorpion fly

Scorpion Fly

Scorpion Fly ©Amy Lewis

Scorpain fly

Jim Higham

Scorpion fly

Scientific name: Panorpa communis
The scorpion fly, as its name suggests, has a curved 'tail' that looks like a sting. It is, in fact, the males' claspers for mating. It is yellow and black, with a long 'beak'. Look for it in gardens and woods.

Species information


Length: up to 3cm

Conservation status


When to see

May to September


The scorpion fly is a strange-looking insect that is found in gardens and hedgerows, and along woodland edges, particularly among Stinging nettles and bramble. It has a long, beak-like projection from its head that is uses to feed. It scavenges on dead insects and frequently steals the contents of spiders' 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 three species of scorpion fly that live in the UK, which are difficult to tell apart.



Did you know?

Scorpion flies belong to an ancient order of insects known as 'Mecoptera' which includes about 550 species worldwide. Mecoptera can be traced back to the Permian period, more than 250 million years ago, and are likely ancestors of butterflies and flies.