Fun Scorpionfly Facts For Kids

Christian Mba
Oct 20, 2022 By Christian Mba
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Sapna Sinha
The Scorpionfly facts about a tiny colorful insect.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.3 Min

The Scorpionflies of the Panorpidae family are a densely populated flies of order Mecoptera. The name Mecoptera means long wings. The origin of these species started as early as the Middle Jurassic period. The Scorpionfly location is typically moist or woodlands with adequate damp leaf litter. The Scorpionflies owe their significance to the morphology of the male adults. They prey on dead insects and decaying vegetation.

The life cycle of these species has four stages of egg, larvae, pupa, and adult as they adapt holometabolism. As soon as the female lays eggs on moist surfaces, the egg absorbs the water and increases its size. These eggs do not hatch in hot conditions, and the larvae evolve only after the completion of dry seasons. The caterpillar-like larvae are typically short, true-legged, and with prolegs at the abdomen. At this stage, they have stiff heads and mandibulated mouthparts, and compound eyes. Then the larvae decay into the soil to emerge as pupae. The fully developed pupa then emerge as adults if they have favorable conditions.

If this article interests you, we have engaging content on the Red Admiral butterfly and butterfly too.

Scorpionfly Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a scorpionfly?

The Scorpionfly is an insect of the Panorpidae family, which is the largest family of order Mecoptra with 480 species. It is often addressed as the common Scorpionfly or Panorpa communis, and it belongs to the genus Panorpa. This genus has 260 species.

What class of animal does a scorpionfly belong to?

The Panorpa fly of the Panordipae family is an arthropod which means it has an exoskeleton and segmented body with pairs of appendages. It belongs to the Insecta class of phylum Arthropoda.

How many scorpionflies are there in the world?

The total strength of the Mecoptera order is innumerable as it is widespread. From North America to South America and from Asia to Australia, the Scorpionfly distribution has spread worldwide.

Where does a scorpionfly live?

The Scorpianflies adapt the grassland, healthy land, moorland, fresh water, farmland, wetlands, woodland, towns, and gardens.

What is a scorpionfly's habitat?

The Scorpionflies are known to adapt to moist environments, mosses, and a few Mecoptera flies also inhibit semi-desert habitats. The common Scorpionflies are vividly found in woodlands with broad leaves, as this Scorpionfly habitat has superabundant damp leaf litter.

Who do scorpionflies live with?

The Scorpionfly families are not social and do not move in groups. They are found as solitary or in mating pairs.

How long does a scorpionfly live?

The Scorpionfly life cycle consists of four stages that begin with an egg's formation. There is no recorded information on the average lifespan of these insects.

How do they reproduce?

The male attracts the female by flapping its wings. Once the female is submissive, it drags the abdomen of a female with the help of claspers. The male presents the female with the nuptial gift of thick saliva secretions. The mating scorpionfly feeds during the copulation time, which may last from 15 minutes to several hours. Some scorpionflies also offer dead insects or bugs as a present. Some scorpionflies emit chemical forms to grab the attention of the female.

While the female inspects the offering, the male scorpionfly probes into female reproductive organs; in this process, it is most probable that the female denies the gift and flies away. If she acquires the gift, it lowers itself in an upside-down hanging position approving the copulation. During copulation, the female preys on the present, and the male holds up the female to anchor it. The mating time lasts from 15 minutes to several hours. On culmination, the female lays eggs in a moist environment.

What is their conservation status?

As Scorpionflies are spread in high concentrations worldwide, the conservation status of this common Scorpionfly is Least Concern.

Scorpionfly Fun Facts

What do scorpionflies look like?

The Scorpionfly is an insect. It is a colorful fly. The common Scorpionfly has a yellow-black body with a reddish head. The tail of these insects is also red. The length of Scorpionfly wings is 1.4 in, slightly more significant than the total length of its body. The Scorpion insect attained its significance and name due to the anatomy of the genus Panorpa. The male insects have genitals at the end of their tail, which replicates scorpion stingers. These are called claspers. The abdomen of a male Scorpion fly is swollen, and the swelling is referred to as a genital capsule. The female Scorpionfly abdomen is comparatively slim.

The Scorpionfly has four membranaceous wings and filamentous antennae. Their prolonged head is signified with mouthparts like a beak. It has large eyes. Their abdomen is cylindrical with 11 segments. In the Scorpionfly males, the swollen abdomen is curved upwards that looks like a scorpion-like tail.

Some interesting, fun facts about the Scorpionfly.

How cute are they?

This species creates curiosity in its appearance. Their scorpion-like tail allures the human eye. But the Scorpionfly stings are not poisonous, indicating that these flies are cute but not harmful.

How do they communicate?

The Scorpionflies are not social animals. But they are very expressive while communicating during mating. There is significant diversity in the males mating techniques. The Scorpionflies communication includes emitting chemical signals, offering nuptial presents, flapping wings, and waving with antennae. In some of the Scorpionfly groups, the males even dance to attract female attention.

How big is a scorpionfly?

The common Scorpionflies are 0.1-1.4 in. Its length is relatively equal to that of a medium-sized Mecoptera order insect.

How fast can a scorpionfly fly?

The locomotion of a scorpionfly is flying short distances. Despite having two pairs of wings, the Scorpionfly takes a slow flight with variable patterns. The Scorpionfly can fly at a speed of 1.1 mph.

How much does a scorpionfly weigh?

The exact weight of Mecoptera is unknown. However, they are small to medium-sized insects with long slender bodies and short membranous wings that resemble flies.

What are their male and female names of the species?

The adult male and female Scorpionflies are referred to as male Scorpionfly and female Scorpionfly.

What would you call a baby scorpionfly?

The baby of the family Panorpidae, order Mecoptera, is called larva.

What do they eat?

The Scorpionflies prey on dead insects, insects trapped in spider webs, petals, leaves. The Scorpionfly diet also includes decaying vegetation.

Are they dangerous?

These flies do not bite; hence the Scorpionfly sting or bite is harmless to humans. Quite contrary to the scary appearance of Scorpionfly tails, they are not dangerous.

Would they make a good pet?

Though the flies of these species are disarmed and possessing the tendency to feed on any dead insect, their habitat lifestyle suggests that it is not ideal to have Scorpionflies as pets.

Did you know...

Scorpionflies play a prominent role in forensic entomology, revealed a study related to the developmental stages of arthropods on the corpse, as these flies are the first ones to arrive at it.

The mating process of the Scorpion fly is the most dreadful and aggressive. There are fair chances of the female killing the male during the aggressive copulation.

Even the Scorpionfly larvae can feed on a dead insect. If the hot conditions of the habitat are not favorable, these flies choose to remain in the current state of egg or pupa even for several months.

The flies of the Panorpa species are predatory during the day and can be opportunistic hunters during the dark.

The Scorpionflies beat their wings 28 times per second.

Like many insects, Mecoptera has a peripneustic respiratory system. Spiracles on the abdomen and the prothorax are free, and the metathorax is near.

The order Mecoptera contains a smaller group of Snow Scorpionfly species, and the adults of this group walk on snow.

The Scorpionfly Harlequin beetle is a tropical American beetle with captivity ranging from Mexico to South America. The importance of this beetle is related to their legs, that is lengthier than the actual body of the fly. It hides in the fungus-covered trunks of tropical fig trees. The significance of the name is derived from its anatomy. Its wing covers are contained with black-red and greenish-yellow markings.

How many species of scorpionfly are there?

There are 480 species in the Panorpidae family in order Mecoptera around the globe. Forty species of family Panorpidae are endemic to North America, and the rest of the order Mecoptera insects are native to East Asia and Eurasia. Mecoptera order has around 600 species, among which 23 groups are native to Europe, and four are endemic to the British Isles. The history of the Scorpionfly is ancient, with a fossil record of almost 250 million years. This labels the fly as a living fossil.

What is a scorpionfly's nuptial gift?

The male offers saliva secretions as the Scorpionfly nuptial gift to the female. This offering is acquired by the female only if the mating is extended for a longer duration. The weaker males who are deficient in these saliva secretions delay the initiation of copulation so that there will be no requirement to release the saliva gift. The quality of the nuptial presence is directly related to the hours of copulation - the best offering yields results of maximum sperm transfer and increased oviposition.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other arthropods including red paper wasp, or Dobsonfly.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Scorpionfly coloring pages.

Scorpionfly Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Dead insects, aphids, nectar, rotting fruit, vegetation

What Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?


How Much Did They Weigh?


What habitat Do they Live In?

wetland, grassland, farmland, woodland

Where Do They Live?

north america, east asia, eurasia

How Long Were They?

0.1-1.4 in

How Tall Were They?








Scientific Name

Panorpa communis

What Do They Look Like?

Black, yellow, red

Skin Type


What Are Their Main Threats?

spiders, damselfly, bittacid, robberflies

What is their Conservation Status?

Least Concern
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Written by Christian Mba

Bachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba picture

Christian MbaBachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba is an experienced blogger and content writer with over a decade of experience. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Nigeria and has a keen interest in Python programming. Along with his writing and blogging expertise, he is also an SEO specialist with more than six years of experience. Chris, as he is commonly known, has a passion for music and enjoys playing the piano.

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