Pronunciation:  [Ra-PHIDI-op-ter-a]

Common Name: Snakeflies

Greek Origins of Name: N/A.

Spot ID Key Characters:

  1. Elongated prothorax
  2. Numerous crossveins near leading edge of wing
  3. Antennae prominently visible

Spot ID Common Families:

Multiple families; none in the eastern U.S

Development:  Holometabola i.e. complete metamorphosis (egg, larva, pupa, adult)
Taxonomy: Raphidoptera has one extant suborder (Raphidiomorpha) and multiple families:

Distribution: Common worldwide, but not present in eastern North America.

Snakefly larvae live in leaf litter or under bark and catch aphids or other soft-bodied prey. In most cases, the adults of these insects are also predators — the non-predatory species usually feed on nectar, pollen, or honeydew.

As adults, raphidiopterans have two pairs of membranous wings with an extensive pattern of veins and crossveins. At rest, the wings are folded flat over the abdomen or held tent-like over the body. Most species are rather weak fliers.

Appearance of Immatures:

  1. Head well-developed with ocelli, antennae, and chewing or pinching mouthparts
  2. Three pairs of thoracic legs; tarsi 1-segmented; claws paired

Appearance of Adults:

  1. Elongated prothorax
  2. Extensive branching of venation in all wings; crossveins abundant especially along leading edge (costal margin)
  3. Front and hind wing membranous, similar in size
  4. Antennae filiform, multisegmented
  5. Chewing mouthparts


There are a number of families in Raphidioptera — the following is the most important

      • Raphidiidae (Snakeflies) — long-necked predators of small arthropods