Owlfly from Italy

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.

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