Thursday, October 21, 2010

Scorpionflies Swarm Woods in North Texas

As you stroll through the woods this fall, you might notice an interesting insect called a scorpionfly, Panorpa nuptialis. This insect is found in the South Central U.S. in wooded areas, near water or in grasslands. Their bodies are around 1 inch in length with snout-like mouthparts and yellow bands on their wings. The male’s genitalia resemble a scorpion’s stinger, hence the common name. They are not strong fliers so they are easy to capture.
Adults feed mainly on dead insects but they can also feed on pollen and nectar; while the larvae feed on dead insects. Before mating, the males will emit a pheromone from their abdomen to attract females. The males will then offer the attracted female a gift. Females often select their mating partners based on this gift offering of prey.
Although scorpionflies may appear scary, especially the males, they do not sting or bite.

Photo of a scorpion fly, Panorpa nuptialis Gerst (Mecoptera: Panorpidae), female. Photo by Bart Drees, Professor and Extension Entomologist, Texas A&M University.

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