01 July 2010

Scorpion Fly

This Scorpion Fly Panopra communis was in the garden today. Quite common, but not numerous, flying May to August. This one is a female unfortunately and doesn't quite show the features that derives the name. The male has a far more pronounced tip to the abdomen (the red part of the photo above) which it holds over its body scorpion style. One of the main diagnostic features is the downward extension of the head to form a stout beak (shown below).
Scorpion Flies, order Mecoptera, is a small group of flies. There are about 400 known species worldwide, with about 30 found in Europe. Mecoptera is a very ancient group and some of the present day Australian scorpion flies appear to have survived with little change since Permian times and qualify for the title "Living Fossils."

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