The Mecoptera of Taiwan

Panorpa bistriata from Shei-Pa National Park, Taiwan


The Mecoptera fauna of Taiwan is both fascinating and strange.  There are 44 species known from this island the size of Connecticut and Massachusetts.  This is roughly 7% of all species of Mecoptera known anywhere in the world.  How did this relatively small island come to have such a large number of species? 

All but five of the species belong to the family Panorpidae, which is normally considered to be a Holarctic fauna with relatively few members distributed in tropical parts of the world.  This is particularly true of the genus Panorpa which is thought to include no tropical species, and yet 29 species of this genus are known from Taiwan.


Mecopterans are not found on many islands.  Madagascar has no mecopterans, even though it lies only about 400 kilometers from the African mainland, which has many species.  New Guinea has no species, even though it was connected to mainland Australia within recent geological time, and Australia contains five families of Mecoptera.  Contrastingly, Taiwan probably has the largest number of species per land area of any locality on earth.  Why is this?


Taiwan lies at the confluence of two tectonic regions – The Eurasian and Philippine Plates.  Over geological time the convergence of plates has pushed up the land mass we call Taiwan to great heights.  There are today 165 peaks over 3,000 meters high and the highest peak is 3,952 m.  This is the greatest number and highest density of high mountains in the world.   At the same time, the connection to mainland Asia is a shallow sea that fluctuates greatly over geological time.  So, when sea level is low, there is a pulse of species immigrating to Taiwan from the mainland (and perhaps vice versa).  After arrival in Taiwan, these species can easily form isolated populations in the multitude of high mountains and develop genetic divergence.  After further geological time, additional pulses repeat the process and a rich, endemic fauna has developed.


The following web pages are an attempt to synthesize our knowledge of the mecopteran fauna of Taiwan.  It is hoped that with this information, and especially with these images, anyone should be able to identify the individual species.  I have been impressed with the amount of interest by non-professional naturalists in Taiwan for knowing and studying the fauna of the island.  Along with study and knowledge comes an interest in conservation.  It is hoped that these species will be available for many future generations to enjoy.


In 2010 I went to Taiwan to study this rich mecopteran fauna.  I was hosted by the National Museum of Natural Sciences in Taichung.  I am greatly indebted to Jeng Kamiliki for coordinating my visit.  Chen Yen-Lin from that institution also greatly facilitated the logistics and collected many of the specimens.   Both individuals showed great interest in this project and showed boundless energy in the field.  There was additional support from Lee Chi-Feng of the Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute (TARI).  He, along with Tsou Mei-Hua and Lee Ta-Hsiang helped greatly with field collecting.  My wife, Ana Maria Lira Penny showed great patience in taking the live photos of scorpion-flies in the field.  Oliver S. Flint, Jr. from the U.S. National Museum of Natural History was very gracious in loaning to me some historically valuable specimens donated to the NMNH by Syûti Issiki many years ago.  None of these web pages would have been possible without the fine Auto-Montage®  images created by Rachel Diaz-Bastin.  Finally,  Amanda Kershaw is to be thanked for putting together the images and text into web pages that are a part of the California Academy of Sciences attempts to describe and conserve the natural world.


Collection abbreviations used in these pages are those found in “Insect and Spider Collections of the World” by Neal Evenhuis at



Bicaubittacus sonani  (Issiki, 1929)


Bittacus chujoi  Issiki & Cheng, 1947


Bittacus formosanus  Issiki, 1927 


Bittacus maculatus  Issiki, 1927 


Bittacus striatus  Issiki, 1927 



Neopanorpa dispar  Issiki & Cheng, 1947 


Neopanorpa formosana  (Navás, 1911) 


Neopanorpa gradana  Cheng, 1952


Neopanorpa k-maculata  Cheng, 1952 


Neopanorpa magna  Issiki, 1927  Taiwan


     = Neopanorpa babai  Miyamoto, 1994 


Neopanorpa makii  Issiki, 1927  Taiwan


Neopanorpa ophthalmica  (Navas, 1911) Japan, Taiwan


Neopanorpa sauteri  (Esben-Petersen, 1912)


Neopanorpa similis  Byers, 2002


Neopanorpa youngi  Byers, 1994 


Panorpa akasakai  Issiki, 1929 


Panorpa angustistriata  Issiki, 1929 


Panorpa apiconebulosa  Issiki, 1929


Panorpa bistriata  Issiki, 1929 


Panorpa brevititilana  Issiki, 1929


Panorpa bunun  Issiki, 1929


Panorpa concolor  E.-P., 1915


Panorpa deceptor  E.-P., 1913


Panorpa esakii  Issiki, 1929 


Panorpa falsa  Issiki & Cheng, 1947 


Panorpa hamata  Issiki & Cheng, 1947


Panorpa horiensis  Issiki, 1929 


Panorpa issikii  Penny & Byers, 1979 


Panorpa lintienshana  Cheng, 1952


Panorpa longiramina  Issiki & Cheng, 1947 


Panorpa longititilana  Issiki, 1929 


Panorpa nokoensis  Issiki, 1929 


Panorpa nudiramus  Byers, 2002 


Panorpa ochraceocauda  Issiki, 1927 


Panorpa pallidimaculata  Issiki, 1929

Panorpa pectinata  Issiki, 1929


Panorpa peterseana  Issiki, 1927 


Panorpa rantaisanensis  Issiki, 1929 


Panorpa shibatai  Issiki, 1929 


Panorpa sonani  Issiki, 1929 


Panorpa taiheisanensis  Issiki, 1929 


Panorpa taiwanensis  Issiki, 1929 


Panorpa tecta  Byers, 2002


Panorpa yiei  Issiki & Cheng, 1947  


A Bibliography of Mecoptera


A World Catalog of Mecoptera

The Mecoptera of Taiwan

The Mecoptera of North America


The Mecoptera of Chile


The Mecoptera of Mexico (in progress)


The Mecoptera of Gaoligongshan, Yunnan, China (in progress)


  • Norm Penny
  • Collections Manager
  • California Academy of Sciences
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  • San Francisco, CA 94118
  • 415-379-5320 (direct)