The males have an upturned bulbous and sting-like tail, hence why they are called scorpion flies, yet they do not sting. The female has a tapering tail, and both sexes tend to have fewer spots on their wings compared to Panorpa communis which is very similar. Genitalia examination will accurately confirm either species. Body length 10 to 15mm.
Mating usually occurs at night and be quite dangerous for the male. The female may kill him if things don’t go well, so he gives her a drop of saliva as a present to try to please her before mating is attempted. Feeds on dead and dying insects and other invertebrates. They have a crafty way of stealing spider victims wrapped in silk from their webs without getting caught themselves.
Flies May to September. Found in hedgerows and woodland, shady places almost everywhere. Often found resting on vegetation. Common and widespread throughout the UK.
Photograph of Panorpa germanica male, taken June 2013, local pool, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2013. Camera used Nikon Coolpix P500.