Snow scorpionflies are active in winter and are most often seen crawling over the surface of the snow. Sort of resembling a dragon close up, they are small (2-7 mm), dark-bodied, and flightless, with most having mandibles set at the tip of their snout. They reside in the order Mecoptera along with hangingflies and are considered to be the closest living relatives of fleas, with some species jumping well.
The scorpionfly pictured is a female, with tiny forewings that cover hindwings and an ovipositor (a tubular structure that is used for laying eggs) extending from the tip of her abdomen about as long as her snout. Males have reduced blade-like wings, each with a terminal spine used to grasp the female during mating.
Scorpionflies feed on mosses and liverworts. This particular species can be found in western Montana on Grimmia mosses on granite boulders or on nearby snow at 4,000-10,300 ft.
Photo by: Glenn Marangelo on 12/27/20 in Pattee Canyon Recreation Area near Missoula, MT