Belongs to: flies

Scorpionfly Panorpa communis


Best time to see: May to late Sep

Key facts

Large fly-like insects with the tip of their abdomen bent back like a scorpion's sting

Seen mainly in damp places and in dense vegetation, such as hedges or beds of nettles

Widespread throughout the UK

Recognition

Beak-like head and red tip to their 'sting', in fact used to clasp the female when mating

Two pairs of patterned wings, span c. 35 mm (unlike true flies, which only have one pair)

Eat small insects, often stealing these from spiders' webs

Lifecycle

Male clasps the female to mate, giving her pellets of saliva to encourage her and avoid being eaten himself

Eggs are deposited in the soil; young are like caterpillars and spend the winter on the ground, pupating the following year

  • Main photo

Photo © Tony Gunton