There is no surprise about how the scorpion fly (Panorpa communis) got its name. However, this little monster presents no danger to any living creature, with the swollen scorpion-like tail – which only males possess – only being used during mating.
Scorpion flies are found in gardens, hedges and woodland, where they feed mainly on dead insects. They have strong mouthparts that enable them to bite through tough skins.
They are about 1.5 cm long with a 3 cm wingspan. Their long thin wings have dark markings. They also have long antennae.
The larva of the scorpion fly resembles a caterpillar.
Although the scorpion tail might give the impression that the female fly is at risk during mating, it is actually the male whose life is at stake, given the female’s predilection for eating her mate given half a chance. A male scorpion fly will offer the female a gift of a drop of saliva in the hope of living to tell the tale.