Kentucky's strangest animal isn't a scorpion but looks like one

Anita Durairaj

It has been classified as the "strangest animal" in Kentucky by Reader's Digest. The animal is actually an insect called the scorpionfly.

The scorpionfly is quite common in Kentucky although it is rarely noticed. There are several species of the scorpionfly in Kentucky. The insect belongs to the family, Panorpidae, and the genus Panorpa.

Unlike their namesake, scorpions, the scorpionfly does not sting. Like the scorpion, it does have a stinger-like tail which serves as an external male reproductive organ or male clasper. Female scorpionflies lack this distinctive stinger-like tail.

Male scorpionflies use their stinger-like clasper for courtship. However, mating is dangerous for them as female scorpionflies have been known to kill them.

Scorpionflies are mostly found in early summer in weedy areas of forest regions where they feed on insects and rotting plants.

Scorpionflies have also been referred to as "flying scorpions." With their wings, they can fly in a short duration.

Scorpionflies can be identified by their yellow and gold coloring. Most scorpionflies have 4 wings and they also have a long "rostrum" or beak at the end of which their mouthparts are located. Their body lengths are about 3/4 inches long.

Scorpionflies are so common in Kentucky that a new species was discovered as recently as 2019.

There is a myth about scorpionflies that they can sting with their stinger-like tail. However, scorpionflies are harmless. They are not considered to be pests and do not bite or sting.

Have you come across a scorpionfly?

Sources: University of Kentucky Entomology, BioONE Complete (journal), Reader's Digest

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Trained with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati, I write unique and interesting articles focused on science, history, and current events.


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