(Selection of Male & Female)
This slim insect, about 20mm long with a 30mm wingspan, is one of the more easily recognised insects. There is not much to confuse it with in the UK, there being only one other species , P. cognata (smaller and paler) which has a very localised distribution in Britain. Several other Panorpa species are to be found in Europe.
With four wings (not that you could tell from these images), none of them are true flies of the general order of Diptera, two winged flies. These all belong to the order, Insecta: Mecoptera: Panorpidae.
The male (upper image) is characterised by the way in which the last segments of the abdomen, the reddish brown clasping organs like minature earwig pincers, are reflexed up and forward - scorpion like. Although the female's abdomen (lower image) also curves upwards, it is not so pronounced as in the male.
The wings of both are transparent with black markings. The apparent colour difference in the two images is due solely to direct sunlight reflecting from the females wings.
The upper surface of the abdomen is banded black and cream, with black predominating in the female. The underside of the abdomen is an almost transluscent creamy grey.
This species is quite common and is to be found in hedgerows and wooded areas from Spring to Autumn.
While it will take small insects, it is also a scavenger of dead plant and animal matter. The larvae are caterpillar-like, with six thoracic legs but no prolegs and undergo complete metamorphosis (egg, larva, pupa, imago)
Close-up and macro
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