Panorpa communis

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Panorpa communis
Scorpion fly.jpg
P. communis male
Panorpa communis 2006-07-11.jpg
P. communis female
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Mecoptera
Family: Panorpidae
Genus: Panorpa
Species: P. communis
Binomial name
Panorpa communis
Linnaeus, 1758

Panorpa communis, the common scorpionfly,[1] is a species of scorpionfly native to Western Europe.


female, dorsal view

The common scorpionfly has a black and yellow body, with a reddish head and tail. The male has a pair of claspers at the end of its tail (for holding the female during mating), giving it a scorpion-like appearance, although it is not a stinger. The adult insect has a wingspan of about 35 millimetres (1.4 in), with wings that are mostly clear, but have many dark spots or patches. Its head, mounted with large eyes, is drawn into a prominent, downward pointing beak, which opens at the tip of its head. The larva resembles a caterpillar and grows up to 20 millimetres (0.79 in) long. It has three pairs of thoracic legs and eight pairs of prolegs.[citation needed]


The adult is seen between May and September, and can be usually found in hedgerows and patches of nettle. They eat dead insects (although they sometimes eat live aphids), sometimes taking them from spider webs and plant sap. [2]

Although fully winged, the adults rarely fly very far and spend much of their time crawling on vegetation in damp, shaded places near water and along hedgerows. Eggs are laid in soil annually and the larvae both scavenge and pupate there.[citation needed]