#Biodiversity150 number 2 of 150 Scorpionfly

2/150: Scorpionflies, pollinating before it was cool

Animalia: Arthropoda: Insecta: Mecoptera: Panorpidae: Panorpa: Panorpa submaculosa (Carpenter 1931)

Mecoptera are primitive insects that are easily recognizable with elongated faces and 4 wings of roughly the same size. They are commonly called ‘scorpionflies’ because of the characteristic male genitalia in the group’s largest family, Panorpidae, which resemble a scorpion’s stinger. There is recent evidence that these insects were biologically significant during the middle Jurassic to early Cretaceous periods. Ancient Mecoptera had specialized mouthparts that may have been crucial for pollinating gymnosperms, plants whose seeds aren’t enclosed in an ovule/fruit and have needle-like leaves. Today’s global flora is generally dominated by angiosperms, broad-leafed, fruit-bearing and often flowering plants. Most Mecoptera became extinct during the transition period between these dominant plant flora types. As a result, most species are only known from the fossil record; there are currently only 500 extant species of Mecoptera and less than 100 are found in North America. There are 787 specimens from all over the world with barcodes in the Barcode of Life Datasystem (BOLD). #Canada150 #Biodiversity150

Mecoptera fossil from Jiulongshan Formation, late Middle Jurassic; Daohugou Village, Ningcheng County, Inner Mongolia, China
Ding H, Shih C, Bashkuev A, Zhao Y, Ren D (2014). “The earliest fossil record of Panorpidae (Mecoptera) from the Middle Jurassic of China”. ZooKeys. DOI:10.3897/zookeys.431.7561
The scorpionfly’s formidable looking ‘stinger’ is really just male genitalia. They mostly feed on nectar, rotting fruit, and dead and dying insects – like this photo of Panorpa communis. Photo credit: Richard Bartz, Munich goo.gl/TKUFZA

Here’s the barcode sequence information for this species:

Process ID:  SSKJB1689-14

Nucleotide Sequence


Amino Acid Sequence


Learn more about it’s BIN (Barcode Index Number): BOLD:AAH3558

Title image: Panorpa submaculosa – Specimen 09BBMEC-0001 – Kejimkujik National Park – 31-Jul-2009.
Photo credit: CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics