A new one for us, though apparently common in the UK – an ancient group of insects called Scorpion Flies. One of the Panorpae we think, maybe gemanica or communis but it’s hard to tell without a specimen and a magnifying glass. They are called scorpion flies because the male of some species has bulbous claspers at the end of the abdomen that remind people of a scorpion’s tail. They have no sting. This has no claspers, she’s female.
There is a web page for everyone out there somewhere – and so it is for us. ‘30 Interesting Scorpion Fly Facts‘ reveals that “Panorpidae scorpion flies (adults as well as larvae) are known for scavenging on dead insects and animals. However, they can become herbivores too, feeding on nectar, fruit, pollen and mosses.” Good for them, a nice balanced 5-a-day diet to keep them looking nice and shiny. Naturespot is perhaps more reliable. It says they “feed mostly on dead insects, which they frequently steal from the webs of spiders.” Stealing from spiders for a living sounds a bit scary but so is mating. “It usually occurs at night. It can be a dangerous time for the male, if he is not careful the female might decide to kill him! To avoid this he presents her with a gift of a drop of saliva which, it seems, in the world of scorpion flies, is the equivalent of a bunch of roses or a box of chocolates.” Other web sites suggest male scorpion flies offer dead insects which the female eats instead of him.