Downlooker Snipefly

Downlooker Snipefly ©Chris Lawrence

Downlooker snipefly

Scientific name: Rhagio scolopaceus
The Downlooker snipefly gets its name from its habit of sitting on posts or sunny trees with its head facing down to the ground, waiting for passing prey. It prefers grassland, scrub and woodland habitats.

Species information

Statistics

Length: up to 1.6cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

May to August

About

Snipe-flies are active predators and can often be found sitting head-down on fence posts or sunny tree trunks, watching for passing prey. They catch smaller insects in flight, taking them back to their lookout post to eat. The larvae live in soil and leaf litter, and are also predatory. The Downlooker snipefly is the most common species and can be found in grassland, scrub and woodland.

How to identify

The Downlooker snipe-fly is mainly orangey-brown in colour, with dark markings down the length of the body and spots on the wings. There are 15 species of snipe-fly in the UK, which can be very difficult to tell apart.

Distribution

Widespread.

Did you know?

It is probable that snipe-flies got their common name because they are frequently found in wet grassland: the kind of habitat that snipe favour too.

How people can help

Many of our often-overlooked insects are important pollinators for all kinds of plants, including those which we rely on like fruit trees. The Wildlife Trusts recognise the importance of healthy habitats to support all kinds of species throughout the food chain, so look after many nature reserves for the benefit of wildlife. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from coppicing to craft-making, stockwatching to surveying.