Bug Blog

Should You Fear Scorpion Flies?


Should You Fear Scorpion Flies?

When you hear someone mention “scorpion flies” you probably think that such a creature is surely fictional. Maybe the person that mentioned it saw too many cheesy horror films from the 1950s. If you were to learn that these are bugs that actually exist on this planet, then you may rethink your belief in a god. First of all, scorpion flies belong to the order of insects known as Mecoptera, whereas the scorpions that you are likely thinking of are predatory arachnids, and not insects at all. Secondly, and as you can probably assume by now, scorpion flies do not resemble scorpions with wings. Whoever named this insect must have been making a joke. Another reason to avoid hating on scorpion flies, despite their name, is that they are not at all dangerous to human beings. In fact, these so called “scorpion flies” are not even much of a threat to other forms of arthropod life. This is because they collect their sustenance through scavenging, and these flies do not prey on any other arthropods. Scorpion flies are some of the most peace loving of all insects. In addition to that, scorpion flies are beneficial to the natural environment due to their frequent consumption of dead plant material. This dead plant material only serves to keep oxygen from nourishing soil. When scorpion flies eat dead plants they are basically aerating the soil.

The scorpion fly earned its name, not because it was fierce, but because of the manner in which it holds its genitalia, so now we know whoever named this poor insect must have been making a joke. Who knew that some insects could even do that? Their genitalia is a bulblike portion of their body that protrudes from its abdomen. The genitalia then curls up over the scorpion fly’s back, which resembles how a stinger is situated on a scorpion. This  is not exactly the coolest reason to be named after one of nature’s most fearsome predators, but at least scorpion flies are good for the environment.

Have you ever heard of scorpion flies before? Do you believe that scorpion flies, along with other scavenging insects, should be bred solely so they can naturally rid the environment of dead plant matter?