What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Unknown Northern California Bug
Sun, Apr 5, 2009 at 3:06 PM
Hello. We live in Palo Alto, CA and have recently stumbled across this ugly bug. It is approximately an inch long, has what looks like a stinger, long wings, and a long neck. My husband thought it might be a sort of baby praying mantis, but after looking at it longer, we agree it must be something else. Does it sting is my question. We recently had a really bad gnat problem on our balcony and I feel like these bugs are living off of the dead gnats. Here is a picture, I hope it helps!
Concerned Stanford Family.
Palo Alto, California, USA

Snakefly

Snakefly

Dear Family,
There is no cause for concern or alarm.  This is a Snakefly in the insect order Raphidioptera.  Both larval and adult Snakeflies are predators so they are beneficial insects.  The “stinger” is actually the ovipositor of the female insect, and is used in the egg laying process.  It is not an organ of defense and the Snakefly does not sting.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Share →

13 Responses to Snakefly

  1. Bulls#!t! I had a robe on today & I could feel something biting me or should I say pinching me. I had to google this insect & it definitely was a Snakefly! I had never seen or heard of a snakefly before. I felt it crawling down my back & it bit me 2-3 times! It wasn’t even an adult snakefly yet. They are quite odd looking alien-looking snakeflies!
    Ed. Note: Edited for content.

  2. Andrea Creppell says:

    They don’t sting but I do believe they chomp you with that claw like mouth for sure. Was walking outside today and felt a biting sensation on my leg. Looked down and found one of these little guys knawing on my thigh! It left a bit of a mark but nothing permanent.

  3. Suzy Jones says:

    A very large one got on my husband’s back tonight and when it got up to his head he tried to remove it and was pinched so badly it drew blood in 2 places. Really bleeding from it!

  4. Cy Chini says:

    We have a snakefly problem at my work. ( lots of other dead insects for them to munch on as it’s all large windows. After years of no issue I was bit three times in succession by one insect. My coworker pinched it off of me and I was bleeding. I know my snakefly and this one must be part vampire.

  5. Isaac says:

    These things have been attacking me at my house for a couple years now. Never seen one before then one flew on my arm and I was thinking wow your a new one. It took a look at me and bit the crap out of my arm. Ever since then every summer they have been coming out in swarms and attacking me between my shop and house. I usually don’t kill insects but these things are a menace and if I didn’t swat them off of me my place would be unlivable. Two of them just flew through my shop while I’m writing this. People say they are beneficial and that’s probably true but these things attack and bite people.

  6. Kris says:

    Oddly enough my mother and sister who hate carpenter ants and lace flies, love these snake flies. I’ve handled all these and the snake fly is the only one I’ve held that was constantly bitting me (didn’t break skin). Obviously not venomous. Seems likes it’s tasting everything.

    • Kris says:

      To add – I’m on the west coast. I imagine if this fly was bigger and behaved the way it does…can easily be an annoyance

  7. Anderson says:

    They surely do bite. One chomped onto my friend’s bare arm just this evening; we picked it off and got a very good look. It was definitely a female snakefly and it was aggressive, because it kept trying to bite again.

  8. Jessica Radway says:

    I live in Cottage Grove, Oregon. Over the last 20 years I have had several encounters with what appears to be the larva(no wings). I have a deck with large for trees over it. Each time has been during or soon after I water the plants. Last night I had one on my chest. Feels like bee stings-got me four times on upper chest before it fell into my bra for one more hit. I would LOVE input. This is the first time I’ve seen anything like it. Nobody else seems to have had problems but me..

    • andy says:

      Northern California here; and yes, they DO bite. Often repeatedly, and it hurts. Yes, yes, I know they’re not supposed to be able to, but they do. Remember that bumblebees aren’t supposed to be able to fly, either–but they do. And yes, Bugman; these ARE Snakeflies. Clearly, other people have had the same experience. I would be very interested to learn why they do this.

  9. Audrey Hanson says:

    This thing in larvae form crawled out of my pants after I got twelve itchy bites in one area on my leg. I did tons of googling and I know it was the snake fly larvae it looked exactly like it mouth pincers and all. People keep publishing they don’t really bite and people keep commenting they do so either they have a biting twin or the information is just off. Maybe they only bite if they accidentally get in your clothes but I think I’m allergic to them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *