Subject: Strange bug
Location: northern California
April 17, 2015 12:39 am
it is April and i was Northern California. To be more specific the north Bay Area the day I found the big. I was relaxing in a friends backward when it landed on one of the chair pillows we were sitting near. He looks like a dragon fly praying mantis and wasp mixed in one with really cool coloring. I’ve never seen anything of this nature and was very curious to know more about this insect.
This interesting insect is a Snakefly in the order Raphidioptera, and though BugGuide shows them ranging west of the Mississippi River, nearly all of our reported sightings are from California. Snakeflies are harmless predators and BugGuide reports that: “Both larvae and adults are predatory, though they are capable of catching and killing only small and weak prey. Snakefly larvae feed on eggs and larvae of various insects, as well as adults of minute arthropods (e.g. mites, springtails, barklice, and homopterans). Adults typically prefer aphids but may eat a wide variety of arthropods.” What appears to be a stinger in your image is actually the ovipositor of a female, an organ used in the laying of eggs. It is also notable that most images we receive are of female Snakeflies, and we are not certain if they are more plentiful than males, or if the presence of the ovipositor makes them more of a curiosity, or if the ovipositor is a cause of concern prompting people to be more inclined to discover if they are a stinging insect that might be harmful to humans.