Panorpa germanica has ocelli present. It has a black body with yellow on the sides, yellow rings on the abdomen and yellow marks on pronotum and head (can be brown in some individuals). The genital capsule in males (which gives them the common name scorpionflies) and the tip of the abdomen in females is a red colour. The legs are a yellowish brown in colour. It has four membranous wings with a colour pattern. The wings are transparent with small to medium dark spots, wing tips with narrow dark pattern. In Scotland (borealis form) lacks or has fewer wing spots. Panorpa germanica has a body length of 10-12mm and a wingspan of 22-28mm.
Panorpa germanica is widespread and common in England, Wales and Scotland, with isolated records from the south of Ireland. It replaces Panorpa communis in most areas of Scotland. The borealis form (few or no spots on wing) is found in Scotland and Ireland.
To identify specimens form the British Isles to species level the genitalia of the male and female need to be examined.
Patterned wings: Dark and narrow wing tip pattern, medium sized dark central spots (not merged), more heavily spotted in the inner half of wing. A different form (borealis) found in Scotland and Ireland has few of no spots.
Male (can be viewed without dissection): The genital capsule has callipers that are parallel (or only slightly diverging) and expanded at the tips.
Female (internal ovipositor needs to be extracted): Anterior apodemes straight, curving very slightly towards to tip, a rough swelling is present at the approximate mid-point of the apodeme. The arms of the genital plate are about as long as the genital plate with pointed tips. The lateral margins of the genital plate are sinuate.
Hedgerows, woodlands; often seen in dense vegetation such as brambles or nettles