Currently viewing the category: "Neuropterans: Lacewings, Antlions, and Owlflies"

Subject:  Dragonfly?
Geographic location of the bug:  Abruzzo, Italy
Date: 05/09/2019
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi, again
Wandering through the woods, today, when I spotted, what I thought was a butterfly.
After checking out all Italian species, with no joy, I checked the image again.  It was then I noticed what appears to be claspers on the end of the abdomen.  Thought – Dragonfly?
Checked for Italian dragonflies but nothing looking like this and with such a short abdomen?
Would really appreciate an ID for this, whatever it is.
How you want your letter signed:  Fof


Dear Fof,
The first time we ever saw an image of a European Owlfly in the family Ascalaphidae, we had no idea what we were looking at as it seemed to have characteristics of so many different insect orders.  Owlflies are classified with Lacewings and Antlions in the order Neuroptera.  Based on this Minden Pictures image, we believe your Owlfly is
Libelloides coccajus.


Hi Daniel
Thank you.  I have never heard of Owlflies before. I am glad I was not the only one a bit confused with this little beastie.
When I first saw it, its flight pattern looked like a butterfly.
Looking at the images, I noticed pterostigma on the forewings and claspers.  However the claspers looked way too big and the abdomen way too small for a dragonfly.
On top of that, there are no ponds or lakes in the vicinity, only the River Mavone.  That would not be suitable for dragonflies, as it is a fairly fast flowing river, even now when it is at its lowest, with a very rocky bed.  In full flood, in the winter, it is not unusual for boulders the size of small cars to come smashing their way down from the Apennines.
I love to learn something new each day – today was definitely a bonus day.

Subject:  Bizarre Bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Atlanta , Georgia
Date: 03/13/2019
Time: 08:48 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Found on backyard wood deck. It is March. Found three others similar last year. Bug has on its back what look like crystals. It leaves strange residues on Petri dish. Scuttles quite fast. Very strange formations or perhaps its got stuff stuck to it? Or, is it carrying babies, or its lunch? Spider-like legs, pinchers, hairs on legs. 6 legs I think. Very bold stripes on face. I’m terrified.
How you want your letter signed:  C.McElhenny

Debris-Carrying Lacewing

Dear C. McElhenny,
This looks like a Debris-Carrying Lacewing larva.  They are ferocious predators and though we have received reports of people being bitten by Lacewing Larvae and by adult Lacewings, we have not gotten any reports of anyone being bitten by a Debris-Carrying Lacewing larva.


Subject:  Insect found in deadwood
Geographic location of the bug:  Ontario, Canada
Date: 01/15/2019
Time: 02:35 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi,
I’ve been analyzing insect emerging from deadwood. This is the only one I have difficulty identifying to the even the order level. It emerged from pine that had been left to rot for one year. It emerged in early summer. The images were taken using my camera phone thorough a stereo microscope on max zoom. It has 4 wings, its antennae are segmented and longer than its body. It looks like some weird cross between strepsiptera(too big) and bark lice (different face shape). Even order level identification would be much appreciated. Thanks 🙂
How you want your letter signed:  PJ


Dear PJ,
The four wings definitely eliminates any of the Flies in the order Diptera.  We decided to browse BugGuide prior to requesting assistance on this identification, and at first we thought this might be a Zorapteran from the order Zoraptera, which would represent a new Insect order for our site.  Here is a beautiful drawing from BugGuide and here is an image from BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “Tiny, gregarious insects found in decaying wood.  Wingless and winged forms occur in both sexes. 4 membranous wings with much reduced venation. Antennae moniliform and 9-segmented. Wingless forms lack compound eyes and ocelli, but winged forms have both. Tarsi 2-segmented. Cerci are short and unsegmented. Abdomen, short, oval and 10-segmented.”  Our main cause for doubting that identification is that your images depict many more than 9 segments in the antennae, so we believe this is most likely NOT a Zorapteran, but interestingly, the rest of the description seems accurate.  We will contact Eric Eaton to get his input.  According to NC State University General Entomology:  ” Zoraptera is the third smallest insect order.  Only Mantophasmatodea and Grylloblattodea contain fewer species.  Some species of Zoraptera have been found living in the nests of termites and mammals.  No one is sure what these insects are doing there.  In most Zoraptera, there are two forms of adults: winged individuals are usually brown in color and have both eyes and ocelli, wingless individuals are usually blind and pale (unpigmented) in color.”  Perhaps one of our readers will have a suggestion.


Eric Eaton Responds.
Wow.  I think you might be on the right track with Zoraptera, actually.  Otherwise, maybe a male scale insect.  I do not have enough expertise in either of those to have a better clue.
author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America

Update:  January 23, 2019
Hey Daniel,
I was able to id it to a dusty wing genus in neoptera(they don’t have as much netting as lace wings). It has lost its scales which made it more difficult to id. Would have been cool if I found a zoraptera in my 30,700 samples but they are quite rare as you said.
Dear PJ,
Thanks for letting us know what you determined.  We are linking to the Duskywings in the family Coniopterygidae on BugGuide where it states:  “Adults covered with white waxy powder which gives a granulated appearance to the surface when viewed close-up; wings whitish with reduced venation, and held tent-like over abdomen at rest; antennae long and slender; mouthparts moderately long and beak-like; legs relatively long, especially hindlegs.”  Here is a BugGuide image that somewhat resembles the images you submitted.  How do you explain its emergence from rotting pine?
Update:  January 24, 2019
Hey Daniel,

All the specimen I collected were from emergence traps. Wood was left outside for a year then collected and placed in a PVC pipe with a little opening that led to a vial of ethanol. The lack of scales might be due to it being submerged in ethanol for a few days before being collected. It may have been an unfortunate hitch hiker as a larvae/pupae when we placed the log in the PVC pipe or possibly gotten though the thin mesh we had set up. It is the only individual I have out of 30700 invertebrate samples. I do have about 4 other individuals that look somewhat like this specimen but they are likely a different species or sex(pic attached) as they were found in different logs and later collections.
This is the closest looking individual I could find on bugguide but it’s antennae also differ.
I am hoping to take some better resolution images by borrowing a neighboring labs microscope with a camera attachment.
My prof has managed to get funding for a bar coding plate so this may be one of the individuals I choose to analyze and hopefully it will get a match in a database.
I can send you an image of the close up if you’d be interested if/when I’m able to obtain one.


That would be great PJ.  We look forward to any updates you might have in the future.

Subject:  Unidentified Flying Insect
Geographic location of the bug:  Gauteng South Africa
Date: 01/22/2019
Time: 02:07 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi.
I found this beautiful insect on our patio upstairs close to a light source at night.
Any idea what it might be?
It doesn’t look like a Dragonfly though.
How you want your letter signed:  Damian


Dear Damian,
Though it resembles a Dragonfly, this gorgeous insect is actually an Antlion, and it is more closely related to Lacewings and Owlflies.  We believe it is
Palpares speciosus, a species that is pictured on iSpot.


Thank you so much for the info!

Subject:  Tan Winged Bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Tujunga, CA
Date: 01/08/2019
Time: 11:56 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I’ve been seeing these bugs in my house recently hanging out in the corners where the ceiling meets the wall.
How you want your letter signed:  James

Brown Lacewing

Dear James,
Though your image lacks critical sharpness, we are relatively certain this is a Brown Lacewing, a beneficial predator.

Subject:  What’s this egg on my woody plant
Geographic location of the bug:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
Date: 09/19/2018
Time: 07:32 AM PDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Dear Bugman,
Harvest time is fast approaching, and I am inspecting my colas for dreaded Budworms, and I have learned to recognize their eggs, but I noticed a few different eggs I would like identified.  They are on a stalk.
Thanks for your time.
How you want your letter signed: Constant Gardener

Lacewing Egg

Dear Constant Gardener,
We suspect we will get a few comments from our readers regarding the content of your image, but the stalked egg in the lower left corner was laid by a Green Lacewing.  Green Lacewings are predators, and their larvae are commonly called Aphid Wolves.

Mel Frank Comments
Yes, they are all over my plants, every year. It’s one of the reasons I have had only very minor insect infestations and is a main reason I don’t use insecticides–I don’t want to kill the biological helpers.