The Mecoptera are small to medium-sized insects with long slender bodies and narrow membranous wings. Most breed in moist environments such as leaf litter
or moss, and the eggs may not hatch until the wet season arrives. The larvae are caterpillar-like and mostly feed on vegetable matter, and the non-feeding
pupae may pass through a diapause until favourable weather conditions occur.
Mecopterans are sometimes called scorpionflies after their largest family, Panorpidae, in which the males have enlarged genitals that look similar to the stingers of scorpions, and long beaklike rostra.
There are three Panorpa species in Britain and they require close examination with a microscope or good hand lens to distinguish them, but the only one regularly recorded in Scotland is Panorpa germanica.