Scorpionflies

^ UK ORDER MECOPTERA includes

_ 9 families and 550 species. The common name refers to the scorpionlike abdomen seen in the males of certain species — slender and upturned, with swollen genitalia. Scorpionflies have an elongated body, and most species have two pairs of narrow wings. The head is typically lengthened downward to form a beak, called the rostrum, which bears the mandibles.

Scorpionflies feed on dead or dying insects and will also feed on carrion, nectar, or various other fluids. Mating often occurs after dark. It may involve the presentation of nuptial gifts by the males, usually in the form of a dead insect or a mass of saliva that the male produces. Females will reject males who offer small or poor gifts, but a male may then simply take a mate by force, seizing the female with its genital claspers. Sexual pheromones may also be involved in the courtship rituals, being produced either by the males only or by both sexes.

Scorpionflies lay their eggs in soil. Metamorphosis is complete and the larvae are either highly caterpillar-like, with abdominal prolegs, or grublike. Pupation takes place in an underground cell or in vegetation.

long, orange-red hindlegs two slender spines at end of tibia (only one is visible here)

stalk like wing base

HARPOBITTACI'S Al'STRAUS is an Australian species with brownish wings and orange-red, banded legs.

0rder Mkcoptkra

Family Bl'ITACIDAK

No. of species j 70

1 hese scorpionflies can look very like crane flics (see p. 140). They are characterized hy slender wings, very long legs, and specially modified hind tarsi for capturing prey. The fifth tarsal segment of the hindlcg is sharp and can grip prey tightly. I langingflies typical]y hang from slender, brownish vegetation hy their wings front legs and trail their long hindlegs to catch passing prey.

• Life Cycle The mating process can he complicated hy the males stealing each other's nuptial gifts. Eggs arc laid in soil. The caterpillar-like larvae stick debris to their bodies for camouflage. They crawl around after dark on soil and leaf litter, eating dead insects.

• Occurrence Southern Hemisphere. In damp woodland or well-vegetated, shady areas.

larvai: are caterpillar-like, with three pairs of short thoracic iWlWPM'WTwp legs, short abdominal prolegs, and hair-bearing warts.

long, orange-red hindlegs

HARPOBITTACI'S Al'STRAUS is an Australian species with brownish wings and orange-red, banded legs.

two slender spines at end of tibia (only one is visible here)

stalk like wing base

Order MECOPTERA

Family ßoreidae

No. of species 26

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