Scorpionfly in Ambush Position
Location: North Burnett. Queensland. Australia
November 12, 2010 10:50 pm
Thought you may like this Scorpionfly, in the family Bittacidae, hanging in the ambush position. Any insect flying into the strike zone is not coming out again.
In this shot it is easy to see the large claw which it uses to capture and grip prey. It hangs from grass stems and waits for unsuspecting insects to fly near and then grabs them with its claws. They are the only insect to use this method to capture prey.
The name come from the habit of the male curling the abdomen like a scorpion. They are not true flies however as they have four wings.
In North American, Scorpionflies in the Family Bittacidae are known as Hangingflies and we have a few photos in our archives and there are numerous images on BugGuide, but none can compare to your image that so superbly illustrates the threat that awaits any hapless flying insects that flutters into the path of this unusual predator. According to BugGuide, they: “Hang by front and middle legs from low plants, and use hind legs to capture passing prey.” Upon tying to find a link to an Australian species, we found your awesome photograph gracing the Insects of Brisbane website page on Scorpionflies, and we noticed the name Hanging Fly used. The typical North American rule of thumb for common insect names is to create a compound word with fly for flying insects that are not true flies, like Dobsonfly or Butterfly, and to indicate the name with two words for true flies like Crane Fly or Deer Fly. There are exceptions like Gadfly which is sometimes used for a Horse Fly. The photo you have posted on the Insects of Brisbane website documents the unusual mating behavior where the male attracts the female by presenting her with a nuptial gift of food. Dare we be so bold as to say what a lovely addition that image would be to our Bug Love page?
Unfortunately the image on Peter’s site was lost in a hard drive crash. Feel free to copy the image from Peter’s page if you wish or you may be able to email him and see if he still has the higher resolution original that I sent him. If I get a chance of another mating ritual shot I’ll send it through to you.
Ed. Note: Trevor quickly located the lost image and forwarded it so that we could make it a unique post.