Tuesday, May 5, 2009


This is a specimen of the (sub)order Raphidioptera, family Raphidiidae. There is some debate as to whether snake flies should be separated into their own order or remain a suborder. There are 17 species of the genus Agulla and 2 of Alena, which are distributed through western North America from Texas and California up to Alberta, Canada. They are distinguishable most easily from the other family in Raphidioptera by having an ocellus, while the family Inocellidae does not have ocelli. Ocelli are light-sensitive pseudo-eyes commonly found on insect foreheads which help them detect movement. Another difference between Inocellidae and Raphidiidae is that inocellids are larger than raphidiids, and may have longer, thicker antennae.

(Neuroptera); Raphidioptera; Raphiidae; Agulla
Common Name: Snake Fly

This snake fly was found in La Verne, CA. Snake flies are able to raise their heads above their bodies in a snake-like, earning them their name. The adults are predaceous, but only catch small, weak prey. The female has a long ovipositor and lays her eggs in clusters in crevicies in bark, and hte larvae are usually under bark. Larvae are also predaceous, feeding on aphids and caterpillars. Here are some live pictures taken on May 6 of a second specimen found in Contra Costa County, CA.

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