Walking down the new-to-me footpath with my family I didn’t know I was going to be shown something that defied my imagination. No more than 9 years old I was blissfully minding my own business, brushing past the newly emerged elders that grew with their roots just out of the stagnant ditch.
Already I was quite aware of the boundless forms of nature but was unprepared for this beast. I can remember the very minute as though it was yesterday, with the sun sneaking through the old oaks to backlight the strange creature, the likes of which I’d never met even in my wild dreamings!
Today, almost half a century later I found another one! This time on the M6 path at Brockholes nature reserve. Scorpion flies look quite ferocious with their elongated face, dark eyes and most shocking scorpion tail. However they are quite harmless despite their ungainly appendage!
In fact only the males have the scorpion tail and yes, you guessed right, it’s his ‘man bits’. The flies feed exclusively on dead insects and often rob bodies from spiders webs that are slung amongst their usual homes of shady nettlebeds.
Despite his alarming sexual gear, or maybe because of it, the male is a shy creature who’s absolute nemesis is the female scorpion fly! After mating she does her very best to eat him alive so he has to be quick on his 6 sets of toes if he wants to live to tell the tale.
In fact he chooses to court during the hours of darkness, sneaking up on her from behind, hoping to have his way, waving his scorpion tail. If he’s spotted he will have her favourite gift ready to deliver in the hope of appeasing her. A tiny drop of male saliva bowls her over and is the scorpion fly equivalent of a bouquet of roses.