Subject:  Unknown Flying Insect
Geographic location of the bug:  Fort Worth, Texas
Date: 10/24/2017
Time: 09:38 PM EDT
I came across this insect in the woods near Fort Worth.  I tried to find it on insect identification sites without success.  Please help
How you want your letter signed:  Steven Autry


Dear Steven,
Your images of this harmless Scorpionfly are gorgeous.  According to  “
Scorpion flies got their name because the tail end of the adult male’s abdomen is swollen and turns up to look like a scorpion …, but the insect is harmless. The swelling is actually the genital capsule. The female … is similar, but with a slim, straight abdomen. Both have the beautiful wing pattern seen in the photograph below.  The adults are scavengers feeding on dead insects, rotting fruit, and even bird droppings. They prefer shady locations, and as they are weak fliers they tend to crawl about on vegetation. Although they are not common insects the shape of the head and the tail, if you find a male, makes them easy to recognise.

Dear Daniel,
Thanks for your help in identifying the Scorpionfly.  I must have scanned 500 photos of flying insect in Texas but never encountered this one.
Steve Autry

3 thoughts on “Scorpionfly”

  1. Scorpion flies aren’t a big group now but they were extremely common and diverse back in the Cretaceous. They are are actually older than the dinosaurs, thought early ones didn’t have the scorpion-like tails. They go back to the Permian and were believed to have been pollinators of early flowering plants. They or organisms closely related to them are thought to have been ancestral to several major insect orders including true flies, butterflies, moths, fleas, and caddisflies.


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