Guardian Nature School Team Contact Blog Project Noah Facebook Project Noah Twitter

A worldwide community photographing and learning about wildlife

Join Project Noah!
nature school apple icon

Project Noah Nature School visit nature school

Harpobittacus australis

Harpobittacus australis


A large and dramatic looking, long-bodied insect with striking colours of black orange yellow. Incredibly long legs and tarsi with opposed reverse hooks. Maybe 60mm body length but the legs make the total size up to about 100mm.


Suburban back yard in mixed long grasses.


This family is also known as 'hanging flies and the members may be confused with crane flies which are in the order Diptera. They can be distinguished by their two pairs of wings and lack of halteres. Order - Mecoptera; Family - Bittacidae; Genus - Harpobittacus Species - australis. Another visible distinguishing feature is the pair of opposed, reversed hooks on the forelegs-tarsi. Their method of hunting is impressive. They put their 'hooks' onto some grasses or twigs and hang in a vacant space waiting for some arthropod to fly through or land nearby. While still hooked with the front legs they then catch the prey with one of their hind pairs of legs, manipulating it and stabbing it with mouth parts, injecting digestive enzymes. The prey is rendered motionless within 30 seconds and ends up looking wet. Bittacidae are also known for strange mating rituals. Females choose mates based on the quality of a gift of prey brought by various males.

Species ID Suggestions

Sign in to suggest organism ID


nexttogone 11 years ago

Beautiful series.

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 11 years ago

Thanks lori.tas. I forgot to check if there's others in here... visiting now.

lori.tas 11 years ago

Great shots. I think I have the only other spotting, taken in our yard in Tassie.

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 11 years ago

Sergio this family is mostly Australia and South America. You could find some maybe.

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 11 years ago

Yes Pam.. it came good at last. Maybe the reading glasses helped :) Thanks Sergio and Leuba.

pamsai 11 years ago

great spotting argy bee. Camera working again? That's good.

Sergio Monteiro
Sergio Monteiro 11 years ago

I second Leuba.

Leuba Ridgway
Leuba Ridgway 11 years ago

Now that's a quality spotting - SOTD definitely ...Well done argybee ! I would have passed it off for a crane-fly !

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 11 years ago

Thanks Martin - you're right. I snapped this thinking 'not another crane fly' but It turned out such a surprise as I dug for the info. A whole new Order to learn about. What weird creatures these are!!

MartinL 11 years ago

That's fascinating data Argy Bee. What a way to make a living!. Lots of insects that fly get the name 'flies' like white-flies, butterflies, mayflies and dragon-flies. Maybe all diptera need another name.

Mark Ridgway
Spotted by
Mark Ridgway

Victoria, Australia

Spotted on Nov 3, 2012
Submitted on Nov 3, 2012

Spotted for Mission

Related Spottings

Hanging fly Hanging Flie Hanging fly Hangfly with prey

Nearby Spottings

Gum Leaf Katydid Badge hunts(wo)man Cartoon head nymph Southern Marbled Gecko
Noah Guardians
Noah Sponsors
join Project Noah Team

Join the Project Noah Team