Panorpa vernalis Byers, 1973
Diagnosis: This species is a unique member of the rufescens species group that usually has one marginal spot along the base of the forewing costal margin, and shading along many of the distal crossveins; males with narrow hypovalves; and dististyles with a basal lobe that is apically truncate and bears a row of spines along the dorsal margin. The ventral parameres have lateral props to the inner wall of the basistyles. Panorpa vernalis is unique for this species group in that the wings have reduced pigmentation. There are no bands and spots are reduced in size, but there is plentiful dark margining of crossveins. Males have hypovalves that are moderately wide and reach the base of the dististyles. There is a cluster of heavy dark spines at the apicomesal corner of the basistyles. The ventral parameres are as long as hypovalves and bear a row of thick spines all along the mesal surface. The ventral parameres are broad at mid-length with a transparent medial area between more heavily sclerotized mesal and lateral edges. The female bears a genital plate with broad, triangular, apical notch between broad lateral arms.
Distribution – Geographical: This species is known from Mississippi, southeastern Arkansas. northeastern Texas (Jones, 2010), and near Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Byers, 1993).
Distribution – Temporal: There is a large early spring emergence from 10 - 27 April and fall emergence from 23 September until 13 November (Byers, 1993). This appears to be one of the earliest emerging species of Panorpa in North America.
Ecology: This species can be found in shaded areas at the edges of forests consisting of pine, tulip tree, red gum, oaks, box elder, ash, dogwood, and other species. Adults rest of understory vegetation from 6 – 24” above ground level on honeysuckle, green briar and poison ivy (Byers, 1973).
Biology: Panorpa vernalis appears to have immature stages that grow very rapidly. Byers (1973) reported that Larvae reach 4th instar in eight days, and most larvae entered pre-pupal diapause in three weeks.
Notes: The name vernalis is derived from the Latin word for springtime.
Byers, G.W. 1973b. Descriptions and distributional records of American Mecoptera. III. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society, 46:362-375.
-----. 1993. Autumnal Mecoptera of southeastern United States. University of Kansas Science Bulletin, 55(2):57-96.
Jones, J.R. 2010. Intraspecific Variation in a scorpionfly newly Recorded from Texas and the State of Taxonomy of North American Panorpidae (Mecoptera), Psyche – a journal of Entomology, 2010:152981. 5 pages.