Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
The genus is being revised. “There is much molecular work to be completed because the group is in disarray with up to 30% of the species possibly needing to be synonymized.” (W.L. Bicha, pers. comm. to =v=, 21.iii.2012)
Explanation of Names
SCORPIONFLY refers to the appearance of the male's terminal bulbous appendage pointed at the tip and held in an upward recurved position like a scorpion's stinger (scorpionflies do not sting).
Panorpa: corruption of Greek parnops 'locust'; see Cameron (1975)
The most speciose group of Mecoptera, with 54 spp. in our area arranged into 9 species groups(1)
and >250 total(2)
(19 species in NC(3)
, 10 in NH(4)
, 12 in ON(5)
, 9 in QC(6)
Adult: most species are tan with black-marked clear wings, held in swept-back position at rest. Males have odd curled abdomen, held in an upward recurved position, and the last segment is bulbous at the base and sharply pointed at the tip, like a scorpion's stinger [scorpionflies do not sting]. Female abdomen tapers to slender tip, bearing two small finger-like cerci. Wing pattern useful in identification.
Larva resembles a caterpillar; abdominal segments with 4-8 pairs of prolegs and setae on dorsal and lateral surfaces. See:
throughout e. NA, nearctic part of Mexico, and Eurasia; in our area, most diverse in se. US(2)(1)
variable: low shrubs and ground cover in densely-vegetated woodlands, often near water or wet seeps; grasslands; cultivated fields; forest borders
adults are usually seen resting on leaves in shaded areas less than a metre from the ground;
Adults feed mainly on dead/dying insects, rarely on nectar/fruit:
Larvae scavenge on decaying organic matter or dead insects; may prey on soil insects
Eggs are laid in clusters in soil. Larvae live in small burrows, overwinter and pupate in underground cells, and come to surface to feed. Newly-hatched larvae feed for a month or more, pass through 4 instars, then prepare a cavity in the soil, enter a resting stage for ~5 weeks, and pupate (pupal stage lasts 2-3 weeks in species that emerge in late summer, or months in species that overwinter and emerge in the spring)
Mating behavior: the male offers some kind of food (a dead insect or a piece of a brown salivary secretion that becomes gelatinous as it dries) and emits a pheromone (an air-borne chemical signal) from vesicles within the abdominal segment 9. A female is attracted to the pheromone or the food, whereupon the male grasps the end of her abdomen with the claw-like genital appendages (dististyles) and clamps the front edge of one of the female's forewings in a structure on the mid-dorsal part of his abdominal segments 3 and 4 (the notal organ). Mating then takes place as the female feeds.(7)
Adults may emit an unpleasant odor when molested.(8)
Cameron H.D. (1975) The history of the name Panorpa Linnaeus (Mecoptera). The Great Lakes Entomologist 8(3): 93-97.