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Snow Scorpionflies Boreus species


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Snow Scorpionfly
© John Shaw/CCSA

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Family: Boreidae, Snow Scorpionflies view all from this family

Description Small, spindle-shaped with the wings reduced to bristles or absent. If present, wings somewhat compressed. Black or brown, large compound eyes, long slender legs and threadlike antennae up 150% of body length. Female with ovipositor. Lack of wings can make them appear flea-like

Dimensions 1/8" (3 mm)

Food Adults prey on small insects and other animals found among mosses. Larvae feed on moss itself.

Life Cycle Eggs laid among mosses. Larvae pupate within same moss clumps or adjacent soil. The may emerge before soil freezes and overwinter among mosses.

Habitat Moss clumps in wooded areas.

Range Colder regions of North America; often at lower elevations in the North and higher in the South

Discussion On warm winter days adults will often disperse between breeding areas by walking across the open snow, thus the common name. The males use their bristle-like wings to help grasp the female while mating. A snow scorpionfly is so adapted to its cold environment that the heat of a human hand may kill it. Snow scorpionflies are often mistaken for Snow Fleas, which are much smaller. About 30 species of scorpionfly exist and only a specialist can among them.