Mecoptera is an order of insects most closely related to Diptera (flies) and Siphonaptera (fleas). It consists of up to 600 species across 9 families worldwide. Many more Mecoptera are known only from fossils.
Species in the Panorpidae and Bittacidae families hang beneath leaves to catch prey and for copulation, earning them the common name "Hanging flies". The other common name associated with this order, "Scorpion flies", is inspired by the swollen tail end of the abdomens of males in the genus Panorpa, which resemble the stingers of Scorpions. However, no Mecopterans sting or have venom.
Mecopterans range from 3-30 mm in length and have caterpillar-like larvae. Adults are mostly carnivorous on smaller insects, but will also eat some plant parts. Males court females by attracting them with pheromones and offering a food gift.
- Bugguide. (2012). Order Mecoptera - Scorpionflies, Hangingflies and Allies. Retrieved from the Bugguide website: http://bugguide.net/node/view/56
- Discover Life. (2012). Mecoptera: Scorpionflies, Hanging flies. Retrieved from the Discover Life website: http://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20q?search=Mecoptera
- Tree of Life. (2012). Endopterygota: Insects with complete metamorphosis. Retrieved from the Tree of Life website: tolweb.org/Endopterygota/8243
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