Mecoptera(redirected from mecopterans)
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(scorpion flies), an order of insects with complete metamorphosis. The body reaches 3 cm in length. The two pairs of identical wings are reticulate and transparent; sometimes they may have dark spots. The head is elongated into a beak, and the mouthparts are fitted for chewing. In some species the caudal part of the abdomen has a swelling that resembles the abdominal tip of a scorpion. The pupa is exarate.
There are about 300 species of scorpion flies, distributed everywhere but not usually found in great numbers. More than ten species are present in the USSR. Fossils dating back to the Permian have been found. Scorpion flies of the family Panorpidae feed on dead insects; the larvae resemble caterpillars but can be distinguished by the presence of eight pairs of abdominal legs. Flies of the family Bittacidae resemble weevils, but they have two pairs of wings. The Bittacidae are predators. Their larvae resemble caterpillars. (For a discussion of the family Boreidae seeBOREIDAE.)