1 minute read

Snakeflies: Raphidioptera

Behavior And Reproduction

Snakeflies are active during the day and spend most of their time cleaning themselves. They use their front legs like a comb over their head and pull their antennae through their leg segments. The legs are then pulled to their mouthparts for cleaning. As adults, snakeflies are weak flyers and are not able to move very far from where they grew up as larvae. Like most animals that hunt other animals for food, adult snakeflies live alone and come together only to mate. Courtship in some species involves movements of the antennae, wings, and abdomens. The male places sperm directly into the reproductive organs of the female. Mating lasts up to three hours.


Both adult and larval snakeflies are potentially valuable predators. After all, the adults eat soft-bodied arthropods, like aphids that are considered crop pests. There have been several attempts to use snakeflies as biological controls. Biological controls are natural enemies of pests that can be used instead of pesticides or poisons. Unfortunately, snakeflies are picky eaters and their long development stages prevent them from being effective predators of pests that only live short-term in agricultural fields.

The life cycle of snakeflies includes four very distinct stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The eggs are laid in the crevices (KREH-vuh-ses) of tree bark or under leaf litter. The eggs may take just a few days or up to three weeks to hatch. Snakefly larvae do not resemble the adults at all. The larval stage usually lasts one to three years. During this time they will molt, or shed their exoskeletons or hard outer coverings, ten to fifteen times or more before reaching the pupal stage. The pupa is the stage that separates the larva from the adult. The pupal stage may last up to ten months. In most insects with a pupal stage, the pupae move very little. However, the pupae of snakeflies are incredibly active and resemble adults with short wing pads.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceInsects and SpidersSnakeflies: Raphidioptera - Physical Characteristics, Geographic Range, Behavior And Reproduction, Schummel's Inocelliid Snakefly (inocellia Crassicornis): Species Account - HABITAT, DIET, SNAKEFLIES AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS