National Insect Week – Day 3

Scorpion fly

by Ian Bushell

This is a Scorpion Fly (Panorpa sp.), a strange-looking insect found all over the park particularly along the field and woodland margins among the Stinging Nettles and Brambles. This photo of a male shows the long beak-like projection from its head that it uses to feed, mostly scavenging dead insects and small invertebrates. 

It is 10 – 15mm in size and easily recognised: black and yellow body with a reddish head and dark patches on the wing. Apart from the beak-like projection, the male’s genital area is swollen and held over its body like a scorpion’s tail – thus the common name – but the female’s abdomen is tapered to the tip.

1. female 2. male

They cannot sting but may pretend to if handled, but generally when disturbed, they will drop to the ground.  From now until September is a good time to see them in the park. There are three species in the UK, all of the genus Panorpa but they are very difficult to tell apart.

Header picture: Scorpion fly male by Ian Bushell

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