Wanted: not harmful Insect Arthropoda Insecta Mecoptera - Scorpionflies

The Arthropoda Insecta Mecoptera, or Scorpion Fly, lives on all seven continents. These strange insects are much more common than people realize, despite its distinct appearance.

Concentration of Mecoptera in the United Kingdom

Males and females both have similar body structures, with two wings and six legs on the thorax, two long antennae, elongated mouthparts, and a long tail. Male Scorpion Flies have a stinger-like tail similar to that of a scorpion (hence its name); females have a thicker abdomen and thorax, and their tail has no "stinger" on the end.

Female Scorpion Fly
Adult male scorpion fly: fun fact, its "stinger" is not actually for defense. The male reproductive organs lie within it. Females do not have this stinger look-a-like.

As strange as the Scorpion Fly looks, it's actually not the most dangerous family in this order. By looking at its strange mouth-parts and "stinger," one could easily assume that it's dangerous. However, they mainly feed on decaying insects, nectar, or pollen. The real danger (that is, if you're a fly) lies in a similar family: Bittacidae, or the hanging fly.

Hanging Fly

The hanging fly is very similar to the scorpion fly, except the abdomen is shorter, the tail does not resemble that of a scorpion, and the appendages are much longer and are equipped with long "fingers" that hold the prey.

hanging fly eating a wasp

The hanging fly gets its name because it does not fly very well, so it hangs under leaves and catches prey with its "hands". After catching the prey, it injects the animal with its saliva, which then breaks down with specialized enzymes, liquefying the prey from the inside. After consuming the insides, the hanging fly discards the exoskeleton. They mainly eat flies, but they will eat anything that is small enough for consumption and comes close enough for them to catch.

According to Orkin, Mecoptera pose no harm for humans. However, large swarms can be inconvenient. They tend to breed in large numbers and live in areas of fertile soil and heavy vegetation. Because they are not good at flying, they don't tend to be an issue indoors.

In Conclusion, this order of insects is commonly misconstrued into a horrifying creature. Despite its horrifying physical traits, they are rather harmless to humans.

Works Cited

Insect Natural Enemies: Practical Approaches to Their Study and Evaluation. Place of Publication Not Identified: Springer, 2012. Print.

"Mecoptera - Scorpionflies, Hanging Flies -- Discover Life." Mecoptera - Scorpionflies, Hanging Flies -- Discover Life. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.

"Scorpion Fly - Panorpa Communis." Scorpion Fly - Panorpa Communis | NatureSpot. Web. 22 Feb. 2017.

"Scorpion Fly Facts & Control: Get Rid of Scorpion Flies." Orkin.com. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.

Created By
Sean Pearson
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Created with images by fotoerich - "plant leaf green nature" • judygva (back in town and trying to catch up) - "Scorpionfly - Panorpa species, Merrimac Farm Wildlife Management Area, Aden, Virginia"

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