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Family Bittacidae - Hangingflies

Hangingfly - Bittacus pilicornis - male Bittacus punctiger - female Bittacus sp? - Bittacus Bittacus Hangingfly - Bittacus Bittacus? - Bittacus Bittacus punctiger Bittacus
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Mecoptera (Scorpionflies, Hangingflies, and Allies)
Family Bittacidae (Hangingflies)
Explanation of Names
Family named by Handlirsch, 1906. Named for genus Bittacus, which see.
10 spp. in 4 genera north of Mexico; ca. 170 spp. in 16 genera worldwide (5 genera precinctive to Australia; 6, to Central & South America; 1 to South Africa; the vast majority of the global species are in the genus Bittacus)(1)
10-20 mm
Resemble large crane flies (Diptera: Tipulidae), but have four wings (not two) and no halteres. Hang by front and middle legs from low plants, and use hind legs to capture passing prey. Tarsi have only one claw. Like Scorpionflies, have a prominent "beak" but wings are unspotted, at least in NA species.
Bittacus (widespread) rest with wings folded
Hylobittacus apicalis (e. US) is diurnal, rests with wings outspread, and has black wingtips
Orobittacus obscurus (CA only) is nocturnal and rests with wings folded
Apterobittacus apterus (CA, ?CO) is wingless
Across the continent
Typically woodlands near streams; adults often attracted to lights.
May-September or October (Bittacus in NC)
Predatory on small insects, especially Diptera. Capture prey with hind legs while hanging by front legs from perch.
Life Cycle
Males offer nuptial gifts of prey to females. They mate while hanging from a perch.(2) Eggs are rectangular, with a depression on each side. They are laid on marshy ground during summer, and hatch the next spring. Larvae resemble caterpillars and are unique among the larvae of holometabolous insects in that they have ocelli.
Print References
NC species list(3)
Apterobittacus and Bittacus chlorostigma in(4)
Works Cited
1.World checklist of extant Mecoptera species
2.The Encyclopedia of Land Invertebrate Behaviour
Rod Preston-Mafham, Ken Preston-Mafham. 1993. MIT Press.
3.Insects of North Carolina
C.S. Brimley. 1938. North Carolina Department of Agriculture.
4.California Insects
Jerry A. Powell, Charles L. Hogue. 1989. University of California Press.