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Snake flies

Snake flies are insects in the family Raphidiidae. Snakeflies, sometimes called camel-flies, are distinguished by their long necks. They are predators of small arthropods. Larvae live in leaf litter and eat aphids or other prey. Snakeflies have two pairs of membranous wings that are folded over the abdomen at rest. Females have a long tube at the end of the abdomen, an ovipositer, for laying eggs.

Snake flies

Snake flies

Snakeflies occasionally inhabit various areas of houses by accident, but mostly live outside on trees. Though seldom seen, these insects are common in wooded areas, usually in association with bark.

The larva, or immature stage, reaches ½ - ¾ inch in length when mature, and bears a flat, mottled, elongate, and soft body. When disturbed, larvae can move forward or backward quite rapidly.

Both larvae and adults feed mainly on other insects; thus, they are considered beneficial. Snakeflies are not normally known to harm people or to damage houses or their contents. Some folks, however, have apparently received painful bites from the larvae.

Life Cycle : Snakeflies have a complete metamorphosis, with four stages in their life history: egg, larva,pupa, and adult. The egg stage lasts from a few days up to 3 weeks.

The larval period lasts at least one year, and in most species two or three years. The larvae of snakeflies are terrestrial. The larvae live under the bark of trees, or forestfloor or in the top layer of soil. Snakefly larvae are predators, caterpillars and the larvae of wood-boring. The larvae of a few species are found in rock crevices. The number of larval instars is not fixed, it varies around 10–11, but may reach 15 or even more.

The prepupal stage is always a short period of a 3-5 days duration only. Pupation takes place in spring and lasts from a few days up to 3 weeks. In very few species pupation takes place in summer and after a pupal stage of a 3-5 weeks, the adults hatch in late summer. All snakeflies need a period of low temperature 0°C.

The adult stage of snakeflies is a weakly flying animal. Adult snakeflies are also predators of other insects, although they are rather short-lived, and their biological purpose is focused on breeding. Their eggs are usually laid in crevices in the bark of trees.

Like other insects in the order Neuroptera, adult snakeflies have long, transparent wings, with a fine venation network. The common name of the snakeflies derives from the superficially snaky appearance that is suggested by the unusually long, necklike appearance of the front of their thorax (that is, the prothorax), and their rather long, tapering head.


Snake flies

Exclusion: Flies can be kept outside of homes by the use of window and door screens. Make sure screens are tight fitting and without holes. Keep doors closed, making certain there are no openings at the top or bottom. And check for openings around water or gas pipes or electrical conduits that feed into the building. Caulk or plug any openings. Ventilation holes can also serve as a route for flies to enter a building. Ventilation is necessary to keep adequate air circulation in a building, but use screening to exclude flies.

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