World Checklist of Extant Mecoptera Species


Mecoptera represent one of the major basic lineages of holometabolous insects. They are most often defined by the characters they do not possess. Hindwings are not modified into small halteres, as in Diptera. Forewings are not modified into sclerotized wing covers, as in Coleoptera. Wings are not covered with hairs or scales, as in Trichoptera and Lepidoptera. Their bodies are not strongly flattened and sclerotized for an ectoparasitic mode of existence, as in fleas. Forewings are similar in size and shape, unlike Hymenoptera. Wings usually do not have reticulate venation, with apical forks and twiggings, as in Neuroptera and Megaloptera. The thorax is not elongate, as in Raphidioptera (snake-flies). However, many of the modern families of Mecoptera have the mouthparts extended into an elongate rostrum. Even though these differences occur, several of these groups probably shared a common ancestor with Mecoptera. Because of this lack of defining, unifying characters for all Mecoptera and the basal relationships with so many other orders, the Mecoptera are almost certainly not a monophyletic group as currently defined and will probably eventually be redefined as several groups.

Today mecopterans represent no more than one one-hundredth of one percent of living species, but in the Permian fossil beds of Elmo, Kansas they accounted for 40% of known fossils. The remnant fauna existing today is quite diverse in life history, as might be expected from more than 200 million years of evolution.

This list of mecopterans (scorpion-flies and hanging-flies) is being placed on the internet as a reference resource to the biological community and curious naturalists. It is an updated version of the world checklist published by Penny & Byers (1979). Most references are completely cited in Schlee (1976). State abbreviations for Brazil, Canada, and U.S.A. use their respective official postal codes. An attempt will be made to keep it current. Anyone wishing to suggest changes or updates should contact Norman D. Penny at I wish to thank Hideo Ogai for many helpful suggestions for improvement of the part dealing with the Japanese fauna. Any contributions of mecopteran photos are most greatly appreciated to help make this website more colorful and interesting.



Bittacidae (hanging-flies)

Boreidae (winter scorpion-flies)



Meropeidae (earwig-flies)


Panorpidae (scorpion-flies)



Byers, G.W. 1965. Families and genera of Mecoptera. Proceedings of the XIIth International Congress of Entomology, London, 1964.

Byers, G.W. 1989. Homologies in wing venation of primitive Diptera and Mecoptera. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 91(4):497-501.

Penny, N.D. and G.W. Byers. 1979. A check-list of the Mecoptera of the world. Acta Amazonica 9:365-388.

Schlee, von H.-B. and D. Schlee. 1976. Bibliographie der rezenten und fossilen Mecoptera. Stuttgarter Beiträge zur Naturkunde Serie A (Biologie) Nr. 282. 76 pp.

Last Update: 31 October 1997.

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