Snakeflies (Order: Raphidioptera)

A photograph of an adult snakefly (_Raphidia sp._)

A photograph of an adult female snakefly
Photograph by Earthandspace licensed under Creative Commons.

This is one of the most primitive insect Orders among those that show complete metamorphosis (i.e. whose development stages are egg, larva, pupa and adult). The Order contains about 200 species.

Originally the Snakeflies were part of the Order Neuroptera. However, entomologists have now split the Order Neuroptera into three Orders:

Snakeflies are so-called because of their elongated prothorax (the bit behind the head) which makes them look a little snake-like. There are up to 200 species, though only a handful in the UK and Europe. After the adult female lays eggs in the bark of trees, the resulting larvae take up to 2 years to develop, changing their skins over a dozen times in the process.

Snakefly larvae live in leaf litter or under bark and catch aphids or other soft-bodied prey.

Related links: Snakeflies (Order: Raphidioptera)

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