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The awesomeness of snakeflies

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If you are a fan of Canadian neuropteroids, your bucket list should include a trip out west to see one of our best selling points: the Raphidioptera, or snakeflies. The most common of these are in the genus Agulla, and this morning I found several female Agulla when out for a walk at Mt. Tolmie in Victoria.

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The way the pronotum curls around the anterior of the elongated thorax like a little jacket is strangely pleasing. 

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Snakeflies have a fully motile pupal stage, something I found out just the other day, finding this pupa in a decaying branch of Garry Oak. 

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Here is a freshly-emerged snakefly I found in Oregon a few weeks ago. Note how the wings appear milky and the antennae are not fully hardened. 

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I had hoped to catch these against a blazing orange dawn, but like so many dawns on the west coast, today was rather cloudy.

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Against the mossy bedrock of the Garry Oak meadow, the female snakefly blends in quite well. 

One of the most surprising things I have learned about snakeflies over the years is that the larvae have a very effective reverse locomotion that allows them to quickly back away from danger. Check it out:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGkoaRd4_fc&w=640&h=480]

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So if you are ever on the west coast at this time of year, please look for these awesome creatures. You will be glad you did. 

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