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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Hexapoda
Class: Insecta
Subclass: Pterygota
Infraclass: Neoptera
Superorder: Neuropterida
Order: Raphidioptera
Martynov 1938

Snakeflies (Order Raphidioptera) are active predators, both as larvae and adults, catching small insects on foot. As their pray are often orchard pests, such as aphids and caterpillars, they are usually considered beneficial.


Snakeflies measure between 12 and 25mm in length. They have long heads, which can be raised above the body (much like a snake). The fore wings are larger than the hind wings and have a colored spot on the front. Wings are folded rooflike at rest. The female has a long, needle-like ovipositor.

Life Cycle

Snakeflies undergo complete metamorphosis. Eggs are laid in clusters in the bark of deciduous and coniferous trees. Larvae closely resemble beetle larvae.


Larvae are found in the vicinity of trees.


Snakeflies were formerly considered to be of the order neuroptera, or "net-wings", as they have densely veined wings as well. However, the have normal sized forelegs, and come from the rear of the prothorax instead of the front.

Number of species

There are 50 species found worldwide, 19 of which are found only in North America.


There are two families in this order.