Adult snakeflies have slender bodies that range from 0.20 to 0.79 inches (5 to 20 millimeters) in length. The head is flat and has chewing mouthparts that are directed forward. The antennae (an-TEH-nee), or sense organs, are long and threadlike. Some species also have three simple eyes, or eyes with one lens, in between the large compound eyes, or eyes with multiple lenses. The first section of the three-segmented thorax, or midsection, is long and slender. The four wings are similar to one another in size and shape. They are clear, with a network of dark veins, and are held like a roof over the body when at rest. Each wing has a distinct yellow, white, or black spot on the leading edge near the tip. All six legs are similar in appearance and are adapted or built for walking. The abdomen is ten-segmented. The abdomen of the female is tipped with a long egg-laying tube, called an ovipositor, while the abdomen of the male ends with the reproductive organs. These organs sometimes have very complicated shapes.
The larvae (LAR-vee), or young of an animal, are long and flat. The head has chewing mouthparts that are directed forward, short antennae, and four to seven simple eyes on each side. The head and the first segment of the thorax are hard, while the rest of the thorax and abdomen are soft. The abdomen is ten-segmented.
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