Panorpa helena Byers, 1962
Diagnosis: This species is a part of the helena group with three complete bands across the wings. Males have an anal horn on the 6th abdominal segment; dorsal parameres that are long and appear apically truncate in ventral view; and a flat disc for a basal lobe of the dististyles. Panorpa insolens has clear, transparent membrane on wings between bands, not yellow like P. americana and P. helena. Panorpa helena has one or two spines at the inner apical corner of the basistyles and straight ventral parameres that extend beyond the basal lobe of the dististyles, unlike P. insolens.
Distribution – Geographical: This is the most widespread and common species of Panorpa in North America. It is found along the East Coast of the U.S.A. from Maine southward to Georgia and westward to Arkansas and eastern Kansas, and northward to Manitoba. It appears to be absent from the Gulf Coast states. There is one isolated record from the Uintah Mountains of Utah.
Distribution – Temporal: Adults can be collected from 4 May until 27 September. Although some adults can be found during mid-summer, there appears to be a bimodal emergence peak in June and again in September, suggesting the possibility of two generations per year.
Ecology: This species is very common in moist, shaded forests near streams where adults rest on the broadleaf herbaceous vegetation, such as stinging nettles, jewelweed, raspberry, and poison ivy. Almost any deciduous trees that are found in moist habitats provide the needed shaded conditions for P. helena.
Biology: This species has been reared by George W. Byers and the 4th instar larva described by Boese (1973).
Notes: The species described by Carpenter (1931) as Panorpa venosa was found by Byers (1962) to be Panorpa rufescens, creating the need for a new name for the species previously called P. venosa by American workers. Byers named it P. helena in honor of his mother. The true P. venosa is yet another, valid species described by Westwood in 1846.
Boese, A.E. 1973. Descriptions of larvae and key to fourth instars of North American Panorpa (Mecoptera: Panorpidae). Kansas University Science Bulletin, 50:163-186.
Byers, G.W. 1962. Type specimens of Nearctic Mecoptera in European museums, including descriptions of new species. Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 55:466-476.
Carpenter, F.M. 1931. Revision of the Nearctic Mecoptera. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology. 72:205-277.
Westwood, J.O. 1846. A Monograph of the Genus Panorpa, with Descriptions of some Species belonging to other allied Genera. Transactions of the Royal Entomological Society of London, 4:184-196.