Scorpion Fly (Panorpis communis.)

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Class: Insecta - Ordo: Mecoptera - Familia: Panorpidae

Size 17 - 20 mm

Phenology Peak time is May to August.

DescriptionWings are spotted with black and the admonen yellow with black pattrened stripes.It has a robust beak like appendage which is turned downward. So called because of the upturned red curled over sting like appendagein the male which is harmless. As can be seen from the pictures ( Leaf debris ) they live as scavengers or weak predators - where they may take prey from spiders webs on occasions , honeydew, bird droppings or dead or dying insects, etc. They are about 20 or so spp with similar characteristics around Europe. In the UK there are 3 common similar species which can be differentiated in the field by looking at the external bulbous genitalia of the Male . Females generally cannot be identified in the field

Although there are only 4 species in the British Isles, the females in the genus Panorpa are impossible to identify unless they are killed and dissected

Similar Species P.germanica P.cognata. P.communis

They're not easy to tell apart, as the wing markings can vary and are not regarded as a reliable
The three British Panorpa species all require close examination with a microscope or good hand lens to distinguish them. in males this involves looking at the ventral surface of the genital capsule and in females the ovipositor.

This Scorpion Fly Panorpa germanica Hypovalves on this male show the diagnostic, slightly diverging marks expanded at the tip Callipers look quite thick, are parallel slightly diverging and hint of being expanded at the tips


This Scorpion Fly Panorpa communis callipers slender, curved outwards at middle and converging at the tips".

This Scorpion Fly Panorpa cognata Panorpa cognata, the least frequently seen of the three Panorpa slightly diverging parrell but not diverging at the tips

It is noteworthy to mention that P vulgaris might now be present in the UK and would key out to P. communis.

Fig 1 Physiology & Terminology


FIg 1 The male Capsules of three UK Panorpa Illustrating key ID Features


To Add Sketch


Callipers are the smaller, black-tipped pincer-like structure in the middle

Wing Patterns

Panorpa cognata

Panorpa communis

Panorpa germanica similar to Panorpa communis but the wings are often more lightly spotted and spots may even be absent altogether in this species.


Habitat The preferred places is woodland hedgegrows orshrub or tree shade.


Panorpa 17703


Panorpa 17701


Panorpa 17700