Snow scorpionfly

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Snow scorpionfly
Boreus hiemalis3.jpg
Boreus hiemalis
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Mecoptera
Family: Boreidae

Boreidae, commonly called snow scorpionflies, or in the British Isles, snow fleas (no relation to the snow flea Hypogastrura nivicola) are a very small family of scorpionflies, containing only around 30 species, all of which are boreal or high-altitude species in the Northern Hemisphere. Recent research indicates the boreids are more closely related to fleas than to other scorpionflies, which renders the order Mecoptera paraphyletic if the order Siphonaptera is excluded from it.[1]

These insects are small (typically 6 mm or less), with the wings reduced to bristles or absent, and they are somewhat compressed, so in fact some resemblance to fleas is noted. They are most commonly active during the winter months, towards the transition into spring, and the larvae typically feed on mosses. The adults will often disperse between breeding areas by walking across the open snow, thus the common name. The males use their bristle-like wings to help grasp the female while mating.

A snow scorpionfly is so adapted to its cold environment, just holding it in a human hand will kill it.[2]


This list is adapted from the World Checklist of extant Mecoptera species,[3] and is complete as of 1997. The number of species in each genus is indicated in parentheses.

  • Boreus (24) Latreille, 1816 (North America, Europe, Asia)
  • Caurinus (2) Russell, 1979 (Oregon), Sikes and Stockbridge, 2013 (Alaska)[4]
  • Hesperoboreus (2) Penny, 1977 (USA)

See also[edit]