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by Valerie

March, 2016



The snakefly (Agulla bicolor) is a small predator of other insects that seems to be well-suited for hunting amongst juniper branches. Resembling dark colored lacewings, snakeflies flit about the scaly looking conifer twigs, often blending in so well that they are only noticed when they fly. These insects are about 15 mm long, with an extended neck and clear wings showing strong patterns on their bodies that camouflage them so well. Females, like the one shown above, have a pointy ovipositer sticking out their rear end. It is not a stinger, and these insects are harmless to humans.

There is only one species of snakefly known from central Texas, but the order is more diverse west of the Rockies. Snakeflies used to be classified in the order Neuroptera, along with lacewings and antlions. Genetic analysis, though, has recently shown them to be more distantly related, and they are now in their own order: Raphidioptera. The larvae of snakeflies live on the ground and are able to scoot very quickly both forward and backward. Here in Austin, the adult part of the species' life cycle occurs only during March and April.

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