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Order Mecoptera - Scorpionflies, Hangingflies, and Allies

BG1462 C9393 - Bittacus stigmaterus - female Scorpion Fly - Panorpa - male Unknown insect - Brachypanorpa oregonensis Panorpa - Panorpa confusa - female Merope tuber, female - Merope tuber - female Scorpion Fly   - Panorpa nuptialis Scorpionfly ([i]Panorpa spp.[/i])  - Panorpa - female Panorpidae, perhaps nebulosa species group - Panorpa - male
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Mecoptera (Scorpionflies, Hangingflies, and Allies)
Explanation of Names
From Greek mecos 'long' + pteron 'wing'
85 spp. in 11 genera and 5 families in our area; up to 600 spp. in 8 families worldwide (the 3 tiny families that do not occur in NA are restricted to Australia and the 'Gondwanian' parts of South America)(1)(2); 12 spp. of 3 families in FL(3), at least 14 spp. in 4 families in QC(4), 9 spp. in 4 families in CA (5)
Overview of our fauna:
(* –taxa not yet in the guide)
Order Mecoptera
3-30 mm
head extended downward, giving a long, horse-like "face"
chewing mouthparts
in several groups tip of abdomen swollen in male, resembling stinger of a scorpion (but none sting or have venom)
typically four membranous wings (pigmented or clear), forewings and hindwings about the same size
antennae thread-like (filiform), with 14 or more segments, often half of body length or longer
tarsi five-segmented
larvae of boreids and panorpids resemble beetle grubs; in other families larvae may have prolegs and are caterpillar-like(6). Some larvae have compound eyes (unique among holometabolous larvae).(7)
Keys to families and subordinate taxa in (8)(9)(7)(10)(2)
worldwide and across NA
Adults feed mostly on small insects, but also on petals, nectar, fruits, pollen, leaves, and mosses. Panorpa will feed on insects trapped in spider webs and on decaying animal matter. Bittacidae catch prey with specialized hind legs, inject it with saliva and suck out the insides. Some eat plants, scraping the top layer off leaves.(8)(11)
Life Cycle
Males have enlarged salivary glands and product large quantities of saliva, which is eaten by the females during copulation.(12)
Can have 4 larval stages.(12)
Works Cited
1.World checklist of extant Mecoptera species
2.Penny N.D. (-2014) The Mecoptera of North America
3.Preliminary checklist of the Mecoptera of Florida: Earwigflies, hangingflies, and scorpionflies
Somma L.A., Dunford J.C. 2008. Insecta Mundi 0042: 1-9.
4.Les mécoptères du Québec
Pothier G. 1997. Bulletin de l'entomofaune 19: 12-13.
5.A review of our knowledge of California Mecoptera
Penny N.D. 2006. Proc. Calif. Acad. Sci. 57: 365-372.
6.American Insects: A Handbook of the Insects of America North of Mexico
Ross H. Arnett. 2000. CRC Press.
7.Scorpionflies, hangingflies, and other Mecoptera
Byers G.W. 2002. The Kansas School Naturalist 48(1).
8.The Mecoptera, or scorpionflies, of Illinois
Webb D.W., Penny N.D., Marlin J.C. 1975. Illinois Natural History Survey Bull. 31: 251–316.
9.Mecoptera of Ontario
Cheung D.K.B., Marshall S.A., Webb D.W. 2006. Canadian Journal of Arthropod Identification No. 1, 28.
10.Borror and DeLong's Introduction to the Study of Insects
Norman F. Johnson, Charles A. Triplehorn. 2004. Brooks Cole.
11.MacLauchlin K. Mecoptera page on
12.The Insects : Structure and Function
R. F. Chapman. 1998. Cambridge University Press.