Rees, Bryant E. Department of Biology, California State University, Fresno, California.
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A small order of insects called the scorpion flies. Characteristic of the adult insect is the peculiar prolongation of the head into a beak, which bears chewing mouthparts. Members of the order Mecoptera (mecopterans) are small to medium in size. The insects either have two pairs of large, net-veined wings of equal size, often with dark areas, or have short and aborted wings. The legs are long and slender. In some species, the male abdomen has a terminal enlargement that is held recurved over the back; thus, the male resembles a scorpion, which is the origin of the common name (see illustration). The larvae are eruciform (resembling caterpillars), and the pupae are exarate; that is, the appendages are free from the body and artificially movable. Mecopterans are found in moist habitats within densely wooded areas. The adults are omnivorous, but feed chiefly on small insects. See also: Insecta
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