Panorpa bicornuta, from here.

Belongs within: Panorpoidea.
Contains: Pseudopolycentropodidae, Bittacidae.

The Mecoptera are a group of insects commonly known as scorpion-flies due to the large bulbous terminal genitalia of males in most families, which superficially resemble a scorpion's tail. The head and mouthparts are elongate and ventrally prolonged. The phylogeny below comes from the morphological analysis by Ren et al. (2009) who, however, did not directly report supporting synapomorphies. The Mesozoic clade Aneuretopsychina includes taxa with a long, siphonate proboscis that were probably among the first insects adapted as plant pollinators (Ren et al. 2009). Living mecopterans include the Boreidae, snow fleas, found in boreal or high-altitude regions of the Northern Hemisphere and active as adults during winter, which have the wings reduced to hook-like bristles in the males or entirely absent in the females.

See also: Name the bug: Boreus.

<==Mecoptera [Eumecoptera]
    |  i. s.: Neopanorpa GE05
    |           |--N. amamiensis Miyamoto & Makihara 1984 I92
    |           `--N. subreticulata Miyamoto & Makihara 1979 I92
    |         Westphalomerope maryvonneae Nel et al. 2007 MW15, NR13
    |--Aneuretopsychina RL09
    |    |--Pseudonannochoristinae RL09
    |    `--+--Mesopsychidae RL09
    |       |    |--Mesopsyche Tillyard 1917 RL09
    |       |    |    |--M. dobrokhotovae N02
    |       |    |    `--M. triareolata Tillyard 1917 (see below for synonymy) F71
    |       |    |--Lichnomesopsyche Ren, Labandeira & Shih in Ren, Labandeira et al. 2009 RL09
    |       |    |    |--*L. gloriae Ren, Labandeira & Shih in Ren, Labandeira et al. 2009 RL09
    |       |    |    `--L. daohugouensis Ren, Labandeira & Shih in Ren, Labandeira et al. 2009 RL09
    |       |    `--Vitimopsyche Novokshonov & Sukatsheva 2001 RL09
    |       |         |--*V. torta Novokshonov & Sukatsheva 2001 RL09
    |       |         `--V. kozlovi Ren, Labandeira & Shih in Ren, Labandeira et al. 2009 RL09
    |       `--+--+--Pseudopolycentropodidae RL09
    |          |  `--Permotipulidae [Permilidae] RL09
    |          |       |--Permotipula patricia GE05
    |          |       |--Permila borealis GE05
    |          |       `--Choristotanyderus nanus Riek 1953 GE05, F71
    |          `--Aneuretopsychidae RL09
    |               |--Jeholopsyche Ren, Shih & Labandeira in Ren, Labandeira et al. 2009 RL09
    |               |    `--*J. liaoningensis Ren, Shih & Labandeira in Ren, Labandeira et al. 2009 RL09
    |               `--Aneuretopsyche Rasnitsyn & Kozlov 1990 RL09
    |                    |--A. minima Rasnitsyn & Kozlov 1990 RL09
    |                    |--A. rostrata Rasnitsyn & Kozlov 1990 RL09
    |                    `--A. vitimensis Rasnitsyn & Kozlov 1990 RL09
    `--+--+--+--Bittacidae RL09
       |  |  `--Robinjohnia F71 [Robinjohniidae RL09]
       |  |       `--R. tillyardi Martynov 1948 F71
       |  `--+--Nannochoristidae RL09
       |     |    |--Itaphlebia multa N02
       |     |    |--Nannochorista neotropica GE05
       |     |    `--Microchorista philpotti WT11 [=Nannochorista philpotti GE05]
       |     `--Boreidae RL09
       |          |--Boreus westwoodi GE05, TW05
       |          |--Hesperoboreus GE05
       |          |--Caurinus GE05
       |          `--Palaeoboreus GE05
       |               |--P. baissicus GE05
       |               `--P. zherichini GE05
       `--+--+--+--Dinopanorpidae RL09
          |  |  `--Englathaumatidae N02
          |  `--+--+--Eomeropidae [Notiothaumatidae] RL09
          |     |  |    |--Notiothauma reedi GE05
          |     |  |    `--Eomerope GE05
          |     |  `--+--Thaumatomeropidae RL09
          |     |     `--Meropeidae RL09
          |     |          |--Merope tuber WT11
          |     |          `--Austromerope poultoni GE05
          |     `--Parachoristidae [Choristopanorpidae, Neoparachoristidae, Triassochoristidae] RL09
          |          |--Choristopanorpa bifasciata Riek 1950 F71
          |          |--Neoparachorista K-P91
          |          |    |--N. perkinsi K-P91
          |          |    `--N. splendida K-P91
          |          `--Parachorista N02
          |               |--P. bairdae (Tillyard 1922) [=Archipanorpa bairdae] F71
          |               |--P. comica N02
          |               |--P. pincombeae Tillyard 1926 [incl. P. warnerensis Tillyard 1926] F71
          |               `--P. splendida Tillyard 1926 F71
          `--+--Orthophlebiidae [Austropanorpidae] GE05
             |    |--Austropanorpa N02
             |    `--Orthophlebia GE05
             |         |--O. grandis N02
             |         |--O. heidemariae N02
             |         `--O. longicauda N02
             `--+--+--Apteropanorpa [Apteropanorpidae] GE05
                |  |    `--A. tasmanica B91
                |  `--Choristidae N02
                |       |--Neochorista ruficeps B91
                |       |--Taeniochorista pallida B91
                |       `--Chorista Klug 1836 ICZN03
                |            |--*C. australis Klug 1838 ICZN03
                |            `--C. ruficeps R70
                `--+--Holcorpa [Holcorpidae] GE05
                   |    `--H. maculosa GE05
                   `--+--Panorpodidae GE05
                      |    |--Brachypanorpa carolinensis GE05, K-P87
                      |    `--Panorpodes GE05
                      `--Panorpidae RL09
                           |--Leptopanorpa GE05
                           `--Panorpa Linnaeus 1758 L58
                                |--P. bicornuta TW05
                                |--P. communis Linnaeus 1758 L58 (see below for synonymy)
                                |--P. germanica Linnaeus 1758 L58
                                `--P. pryeri K-P83

Mesopsyche triareolata Tillyard 1917 [incl. Triassopsyche dunstani Tillyard 1917, Neuropsyche elongata Tillyard 1919, Aristopsyche superba Tillyard 1919] F71

Panorpa communis Linnaeus 1758 L58 [incl. P. communis f. bifasciata K01, P. communis var. diffinis K01]

*Type species of generic name indicated


[B91] Byers, G. W. 1991. Mecoptera (scorpion-flies, hanging-flies). In: CSIRO. The Insects of Australia: A textbook for students and research workers 2nd ed. vol. 2 pp. 696–704. Melbourne University Press: Carlton (Victoria).

[F71] Fletcher, H. O. 1971. Catalogue of type specimens of fossils in the Australian Museum, Sydney. Australian Museum Memoir 13: 1–167.

[GE05] Grimaldi, D., & M. S. Engel. 2005. Evolution of the Insects. Cambridge University Press: New York.

[ICZN03] ICZN. 2003. Choristidae Verrill, 1882 (Mollusca, Gastropoda): spelling emended to Choristeidae, so removing the homonymy with Choristidae Esben-Petersen, 1915 (Insecta, Mecoptera). Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 60 (3): 224–225.

[I92] Iwahashi, J. (ed.) 1992. Reddo Deeta Animaruzu: a pictorial of Japanese fauna facing extinction. JICC: Tokyo.

[K01] Klapálek, F. 1901. Neuropteroidák [Neuropteroiden]. In: Horváth, G. (ed.) Zichy Jenő Gróf Harmadik Ázsiai Utazása [Dritte Asiatische Forschungsreise des Grafen Eugen Zichy] vol. 2. Zichy Jenő Gróf Harmadik Ázsiai Utazásának Állattani Eredményei [Zoologische Ergebnisse der Dritten Asiatischen Forschungsreise des Grafen Eugen Zichy] pp. 203–221. Victor Hornyánszky: Budapest, and Karl W. Hierseman: Leipzig.

[K-P83] Kukalová-Peck, J. 1983. Origin of the insect wing and wing articulation from the arthropodan leg. Canadian Journal of Zoology 61: 1618–1669.

[K-P87] Kukalová-Peck, J. 1987. New Carboniferous Diplura, Monura, and Thysanura, the hexapod ground plan, and the role of thoracic side lobes in the origin of wings (Insecta). Canadian Journal of Zoology 65: 2327–2345.

[K-P91] Kukalová-Peck, J. 1991. Fossil history and the evolution of hexapod structures. In: CSIRO. The Insects of Australia: A textbook for students and research workers 2nd ed. vol. 1 pp. 141–179. Melbourne University Press: Carlton (Victoria).

[L58] Linnaeus, C. 1758. Systema Naturae per Regna Tria Naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata. Laurentii Salvii: Holmiae.

[MW15] McKenna, D. D., A. L. Wild, K. Kanda, C. L. Bellamy, R. G. Beutel, M. S. Caterino, C. W. Farnum, D. C. Hawks, M. A. Ivie, M. L. Jameson, R. A. B. Leschen, A. E. Marvaldi, J. V. McHugh, A. F. Newton, J. A. Robertson, M. K. Thayer, M. F. Whiting, J. F. Lawrence, A. Ślipiński, D. R. Maddison & B. D. Farrell. 2015. The beetle tree of life reveals that Coleoptera survived end-Permian mass extinction to diversify during the Cretaceous terrestrial revolution. Systematic Entomology 40 (4): 835–880.

[NR13] Nel, A., P. Roques, P. Nel, A. A. Prokin, T. Bourgoin, J. Prokop, J. Szwedo, D. Azar, L. Desutter-Grandcolas, T. Wappler, R. Garrouste, D. Coty, D. Huang, M. S. Engel & A. G. Kirejtshuk. 2013. The earliest known holometabolous insects. Nature 503: 257–261.

[N02] Novokshonov, V. G. 2002. Order Panorpida Latreille, 1802. The scorpionflies (=Mecaptera Packard, 1886, =Mecoptera Comstock et Comstock, 1895, +Neomecoptera Hinton, 1958, +Paratrichoptera Tillyard, 1919, +Paramecoptera Tillyard, 1919). In: Rasnitsyn, A. P., & D. L. J. Quicke (eds) History of Insects pp. 194–199. Kluwer Academic Publishers: Dordrecht.

[RL09] Ren, D., C. C. Labandeira, J. A. Santiago-Blay, A. Rasnitsyn, C. Shih, A. Bashkuev, M. A. V. Logan, C. L. Hotton & D. Dilcher. 2009. A probable pollination mode before angiosperms: Eurasian, long-proboscid scorpionflies. Science 326: 840–847.

[R70] Riek, E. F. 1970. Mecoptera (scorpion-flies). In: CSIRO. The Insects of Australia: A textbook for students and research workers pp. 636–646. Melbourne University Press.

[TW05] Terry, M. D., & M. F. Whiting. 2005. Mantophasmatodea and phylogeny of the lower neopterous insects. Cladistics 21: 240–257.

[WT11] Wiegmann, B. M., M. D. Trautwein, I. S. Winkler, N. B. Barr, J.-W. Kim, C. Lambkin, M. A. Bertone, B. K. Cassel, K. M. Bayless, A. M. Heimberg, B. M. Wheeler, K. J. Peterson, T. Pape, B. J. Sinclair, J. H. Skevington, V. Blagoderov, J. Caravas, S. N. Kutty, U. Schmidt-Ott, G. E. Kampmeier, F. C. Thompson, D. A. Grimaldi, A. T. Beckenbach, G. W. Courtney, M. Friedrich, R. Meier & D. K. Yeates. 2011. Episodic radiations in the fly tree of life. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 108 (14): 5690–5695.

Last updated: 12 August 2017.


  1. Somewhat off-topic but you might be interested in a recent case where careless naming and careless reading has killed. Not in biology but chemistry.

    34 people were hospitalised and one of them died after a "liver cleanse" in a town near Barcelona. The investigators were surprised to find that whoever had obtained the epsom salts (presumably an amateur, to be kind to them) had confused hydrated sulphate of magnesium (magnesio) with that of manganese (manganesio). Luckily and skillfully they worked this out from the first corpse and managed to save the other patients. Their livers are probably not improved.

  2. The original naming was very confused. Humphrey Davy realised the problem to some extent according to a quote in the OED:

    1808 Sir H. Davy in Philos. Trans. (Royal Soc.) 98 346, I shall venture to denominate the metals from the alkaline earths barium, strontium, calcium, and magnium: the last of these words is undoubtedly objectionable, but magnesium has been already applied to metallic manganese.


Markup Key:
- <b>bold</b> = bold
- <i>italic</i> = italic
- <a href="">FoS</a> = FoS