Identification of Scorpion Flies
Following Martin Mathews excellent Gloucester Mecopterans numbers 1 & 2 reprinted in the Worcestershire Record No 36 there is at last a reliable way to identify the three different species likely to be encountered in Worcestershire. Following recording in 2014 this note confirms that it is easy to identify the males without the need for dissection. All that is needed is an examination of a male or of a good photograph of the underside of the male genital capsule. Thankfully the male usually holds this uppermost giving the group its familiar name. When held like this there are two structures called hypovalves on the surface which are characteristic of the species (see guide 01).
Both Panorpa germanica and P. communis are reasonably common, but P. panorpa is less likely to be found.
Although it is recommended that the genital capsule is the positive way to split the species, the markings do seem different within the three species seen. Panorpa communis usually has the darker black markings with very little additional spotting. P. communis and P. germanica are superficially more similar with paler black markings and more of them. There is fourth species P. vulgaris which may well arrive in the UK and it is similar to P communis but with more dark black spots so watch out for that.
It is hoped that this note will aid the further identification of Scorpionflies in the county.
Matthews, M. 2014. The Gloucester Mecopteran. Worcestershire Record 36:24-27
01. Guide to identification of scorpion flies. Mike Averill