Animals

19 Hangingfly Facts You’ll Never Forget

Hangingfly Fact File
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Hangingflies, also known as hanging scorpionflies, refer to insects that belong to the order Mecoptera and family Bitticidae. They can often be mistaken for crane flies, which also belong to the order Mecoptera but fall under the family Tipulidae. The most common hangingflies are those that belong to the genus Bittacus, and are found all across the world. Despite the fact that the males of this species have a pincer-like reproductive organ behind their hind legs (thus the allusion to the scorpion in its name), this organ is harmless and they do not attack humans. The front pair of its legs are modified to be able to hang off of a leaf or branch, thus leading to them being called hangingflies. The other six legs have claws that can be used to kill and eat prey like flies, mosquitoes, and other smaller insects. Hangingflies have four wings in total.

They may come in a variety of colors, since there are so many different types of hangingflies. The insects of the most common genus, Bittacus, are usually whitish. Despite superficially resembling crane flies, the two belong to different families and can easily be differentiated since crane flies only have two wings. Do check out some other interesting content on fairyfly facts and damselfly facts as well!

Hangingfly

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Flies, mosquitoes, beetles

What do they eat?

Carnivore

Average litter size?

2,000-3,000

How much do they weigh?

0.05-0.1 oz (1.5-3 g)

How long are they?

0.4-0.8 in (10-20 mm)

How tall are they?

N/A

What do they look like?

Dark brown/cream white

Skin Type

Hardish exoskeleton

What are their main threats?

Preyed on by spiders

What is their conservation status?

Not Evaluated

Where you'll find them

Moist forests, grasslands, caves

Locations

North America, South America, Australia

Kingdom

Animalia

Class

Insecta

Scientific Name

Bittacidae "genus name"

Family

Bittacidae

Genus

N/A

Hangingfly Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a hangingfly?

Hangflies or hanging scorpionflies are a family of various types of flies that includes several genus and species.

What class of animal does a hangingfly belong to?

Hangingflies belong to the Arthropoda phylum in the Insecta class, meaning they are insects that have their skeleton on the exterior of the body. They must not be confused with the common scorpionfly, which are insects of the family Panordipae.

How many hangingflies are there in the world?

The exact number of hanging scorpionflies in the world is practically impossible to pinpoint since they occur all over the world. They are found in abundance in their habitat, and a major factor in this is the sheer number of eggs that the female lays at once, in the range of 2,000 - 3,000.

Where does a hangingfly live?

Hanging scorpionflies can be found in forests and grasslands with high levels of moisture in the air.

What is a hangingfly's habitat?

Hanging scorpionflies can be found hanging off a leaf in any part of the world, but only during the summer in those parts of the world that have less humidity in the air. While they are starting to be seen more often in urban settings, you are most likely to come across them in the woods.

Who do hangingflies live with?

This species usually fly around from leaf to leaf solitarily, but the larvae of this species will usually stick together for a few days after leaving their eggs. The only time adults have been seen interacting with each other is during mating.

How long does a hangingfly live?

The exact lifespan of hanging scorpionflies in the wild has not been studied, but it is widely assumed that they live for somewhere between four to six months.

How do they reproduce?

Hanging Scorpionflies are an especially unique species because of their mating ritual. The male hangingfly offers prey to the female to woo her into mating. The larger the prey that the male finds, the longer mating will last. As the female eats the pray, the male finds her genitalia with his and begins copulation.

What is their conservation status?

No species of the order Mecoptera has been listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, but it can be assumed that there is currently no threat to the population of any species of Mecoptera, due to their wide-ranging geographical habitat and a large number of larvae production.

Hangingfly Fun Facts

What do hangingflies look like?

Hanging scorpionflies have six legs and four wings. The front two legs have special modifications so they are able to hang off leaves or branches of the plants in their habitat, while the remaining two pairs of legs have claws that they can use to kill and eat prey (such as the common fly). They can come in a variety of colours, with dark brown and cream white being by far the most common of all. They are not a very large-sized species of insect, only a little bit bigger than the average mosquito, and far smaller than any adult crane fly. They are able to use their small size and two pairs of wings to fly a lot faster than any of those species.

Hangingflies, also called hanging scorpionflies, are most often studied for their complex mating rituals.

How cute are they?

Hanging scorpionflies, like most other insects, cannot really be called cute. They can look quite gross, especially when they are feeding on a smaller fly or something else. Their larvae aren't the most visually pleasing, either.

How do they communicate?

Like many other species of insect, hanging scorpionflies can use halteres (antennae) on their head to convey information to other individuals. They are also able to emit and detect pheromones in the air to find out if a prospective mate is in the vicinity.

How big is a hangingfly?

The hanging scorpionfly is a relatively small insect, with adults of the species not seen growing to even 1 in (25 mm). At this size, their body is almost half the size of a spotted lanternfly, and nearly the same size as a mayfly.

How fast can a hangingfly fly?

While the exact speed at which these insect flies has not been recorded, it is well-known to be a faster than average flier, easily able to outpace mosquitoes and crane flies using its compact body and two pairs of wings.

How much does a hangingfly weigh?

As can be expected from this very small-sized insect, it does not usually weigh more than 0.1 oz (3 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Both male and female hangingflies are referred to by the same name.

What would you call a baby hangingfly?

While there is no official name for a baby hanging scorpionfly, they could be called hanging scorpionlarva!

What do they eat?

All species of hanging scorpionflies are hunters, and they can eat a wide variety of smaller insects like flies, midges, and mosquitoes, as well as rotting fruit and flesh. They are a big part of forensic science since they are the first insects to be found at a human cadaver.

Are they poisonous?

No species of hanging scorpionfly is poisonous, and despite the scorpion-like pincer on the male, they would much rather hang off plants than sting a human.

Would they make a good pet?

No, and due to the same reasons that any other insect would not make a good pet. They are not the most visually pleasing animals to look at and need to eat a large number of insects daily to survive. As such, we are better off leaving the hangingfly on fruit trees instead of keeping them as pets.

Did you know...

Just like butterflies, hanging scorpionflies too undergo metamorphosis to reach the adult stage of their life cycle from its larvae stage.

Do hangingflies bite?

No, despite their name and the sinister reputation that comes with it, hangingflies do not bite or sting humans.

Hangingflies and scorpionflies

Scorpionflies are part of a completely different family of insects called Panorpidae, so do not get confused by the name hanging scorpionfly. The two species do share the same order of Mecoptera, and show several similarities in habitat, diet, and metamorphosis. However, the head and facial features of the two insects are quite different, with scorpionflies showing a beak-like mouth and large protruding eyes, both of which are not seen in hangingflies.

Learn more about some other arthropods from our Deathstalker scorpion facts and Damselfly facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our free printable i is for insect coloring pages.

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