|Image: Malcolm Storey|
Woe to us all! Who among us will be the first sacrifice? For the plumed snake hungers for human flesh.
|Image: Celeste Ramsay|
|Image: Tim Haye|
Snakeflies make up an ancient group called Raphidioptera. They were once considered to be a kind of net-winged insect, like the Lacewings and Antlions, but they're now placed within their own, closely related order. Alas, no Antsnakelionflies just yet. Though the original Chimaera was a liongoatsnake so we're not too far off.
Video: Carl Barrentine
Snakeflies obviously get their name from that bizarre, long neck upon which their flattened head perches.
They're carnivorous, but they don't eat things bigger than their own head as actual snakes do. Instead, they prefer to munch on aphids, mites and other small, frequently soft-bodied prey. It's just easier that way.
Snakeneedlefly. I've always wanted one of those.
Video: chris c
The so-called needle is, of course, an ovipositor.
Mrs. Snakefly uses it to drill into soil or tree bark and lay her eggs in a safe, hidden place.
|Image: Biopix: G Drange|
Their head and thorax are quite tough and hardened but the abdomen is long, soft and just begging to be filled with grub. They do in fact eat grubs, often the larvae of wood-boring beetles. They also feed on caterpillars, aphids and insect eggs. It's a diet similar to that of their parents, they just need it to be even softer. Just like real babies.
|Image: Nikita Kluge|
After a good year or two of ever increasing gluttony, it's finally time for the larva to pupate.
|Image: David R. Maddison|
In any case, the adult emerges after a minimum of several weeks, takes flight and goes right back to hunting aphids and stuff. It's a lifestyle (and a neck) that has served them well for millions of years; Snakeflies have scarcely changed at all since the Jurassic period.
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