Male scorpion fly, Panorpa communis perched on a green leaf with it’s tail curled up © Matt Cole

“What’s your favourite insect?” I usually hate those sorts of question – your favourite “anything” tends to change from day to day – but for me the answer is simple. My favourite insect is Panorpa communis, the scorpion fly.

Belonging to an ancient order of insects, the Mecoptera, the male is as impressive an insect as you could ever want to see, and once you get your eye in along hedgerows and nettle beds you will certainly see him for these insects are not rare, just often unnoticed.

With downward pointing lethal-looking mouth parts at one end, a pretty fair imitation of a scorpion’s tail at the other (actually used in mating and completely harmless), and elegant long wings littered with black spots in between, the male scorpion fly is a fabulous sight.

Tawny Mining Bee, Andrena fulva, resting on a leaf with it’s wings crossed over © Entomart

Definitely my favourite. Although, thinking about it, I am a big fan of the tawny mining bee Andrena fulva. I’m quite partial to a cinnabar moth too. And I do love a good ground beetle. Actually, maybe I’d better get back to you…

Dr Adam Hart, University of Gloucester