©Richard Bartz (CC BY-SA 2.5)
British Wildlife 35.7 June 2024

An introduction to snow fleas and scorpionflies

The scorpionflies are a ubiquitous but unobtrusive group of insects, widespread in hedgerows and rank vegetation across Britain. Here, Jan van Duinen provides an introduction to their life history along with that of their close relative, the Snow Flea, and offers helpful tips on the subtle differences used to separate the British species.   


The snow fleas and scorpionflies (order Mecoptera) are an extremely ancient group of insects, persisting relatively unchanged for more than 250 million years. The earliest fossils, predating the age of the dinosaurs, already show a close resemblance to modern-day species, and, as the apparent ancestor of butterflies, moths, true flies and fleas, the group occupies an important place in the history of insect evolution.

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