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Order Neuroptera: lacewings and antlions — Examples

Ascalaphidae (the owlflies) Chrysopidae (the green lacewings) Hemerobiidae (the brown lacewings) Mantispidae (the mantisflies) Myrmeleontidae (the antlions) Nemopteridae (the thread-winged antlions)

Chrysopidae (the green lacewings)

Golden-Eyed Lacewing, Chrysopa oculata
Golden-eyed lacewing, Chrysopa oculata, subfamily Chrysopinae, family Chrysopidae.
□ Lacewing is an excellent name for this golden-eyed lacewing and other lacewings. Their huge, graceful wings do resemble intricately sewn lace.
Photographed and identified by: Jackie Lucier. Location: Ontario, Canada. Date: 21 June, 2009.
Golden-Eyed Lacewing, Chrysopa oculata
Golden-eyed lacewing, Chrysopa oculata, subfamily Chrysopinae, family Chrysopidae. Photographed and identified by Clemson University — USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series, Bugwood.org. Date: unknown.
Golden-Eyed Lacewing, Chrysopa oculata
Golden-eyed lacewing, Chrysopa oculata, subfamily Chrysopinae, family Chrysopidae.
□ Note the brown striping on the head of this golden-eyed lacewing.
Photographed and identified by: Jackie Lucier. Location: Ontario, Canada. Date: 11 July, 2011.
Common Green Lacewing, Chrysoperia carnea
Common green lacewing, Chrysoperia carnea, subfamily Chrysopinae, family Chrysopidae.
□ Compare to the golden-eyed lacewing (pictured elsewhere on this page), which has brown striping on the head. The common green lacewing lacks the striping).
Photographed and identified by: Jackie Lucier. Location: Ontario, Canada. Date: 10 September, 2011.
Common Green Lacewing, Chrysoperia carnea
Common green lacewing, Chrysoperia carnea, subfamily Chrysopinae, family Chrysopidae. □ These excellent views of a common green lacewing show off its amazing eyes, how its legs connect to its underside, and the intricate veining in its wings.
Photographed and identified by: Thomas Langhans. See Thomas’s full-size images here and here. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 10 February, 2018.
Common Green Lacewing, Chrysoperia carnea
Common green lacewing, Chrysoperia carnea, subfamily Chrysopinae, family Chrysopidae. Photographed and identified by: Jackie Lucier. Location: Ontario, Canada. Date: 11 September, 2011.
Common Green Lacewing, Chrysoperia carnea
Common green lacewing, Chrysoperia carnea, subfamily Chrysopinae, family Chrysopidae (the green lacewings). Photographed and identified by: Jackie Lucier. Location: Ontario, Canada. Date: 27 September, 2007.
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Common Green Lacewing (Chrysoperia carnea)
Common green lacewing, Chrysoperia carnea, subfamily Chrysopinae, family Chrysopidae.
Photographed and identified by: Gail Rowley, Ozark Stream Photography. Location: Texas County, Missouri. Date: 24 August, 2015.
Gail says, “ “It was just waking up, on a Little Bluestem stalk, as I recall.”
Common green lacewing (Chrysoperla carnea)
Common green lacewing, larva, Chrysoperla carnea, subfamily Chrysopinae, family Chrysopidae.
□ Lacewing larvae look very different from the adults! Compare this Common Green Lacewing larva with the adult shown elsewhere on this page.
Photographed and identified by: Jackie Lucier. Location: Ontario, Canada. Date: 27 July, 2012.
Common green lacewing (Chrysoperla carnea)
Common green lacewing, larva, Chrysoperla carnea, subfamily Chrysopinae, family Chrysopidae.
□ Another nice photograph of a common green lacewing larva — this time from Las Vegas!
Photographed by: Antioco Carrillo. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Date: 28 May, 2017.
Antioco says, “Found this in our back yard. It pinches and leaves a mark. Seems to be about a centimeter long.
Lacewing larva
Green lacewing, larva, family Chrysopidae.
□ This excellent closeup shows the thin and sharp pincers on this 0.25-inch-long (6 mm) larva of a green lacewing. It uses them to grab and spear their meal: aphids.
Photographed by: Joe Biczak. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: northwestern New Jersey, USA. Date: 5 August, 2017.
Joe says, “It was on my pillowcase when I woke up.” That leads him to think it may have travelled with him from the previous day’s trip to Buttermilk Falls, which is part of the Delaware Water Gap near Pennsylvania.
Red-Lipped Green Lacewing (Chrysoperla rufilabris)
Red-lipped green lacewing, Chrysoperla rufilabris, subfamily Chrysopinae, family Chrysopidae.
□ The red-lipped green lacewing does have a red patch on its face (close-up at right). The row of equaly-sized cells at the leading edge of the wings shows up well in the photo at left.
Photographed and identified by: Tommy Vick. Location: Davis Mountains, Fort Davis, Texas, USA. Date: 26 May, 2020.
Lacewing larva
Lacewing, larva, family Chrysopidae.
□ The larvae of green lacewings have large pincers, which are visible poking out from the pile of debris that this larva has amassed on its back. These larvae use their pincers to seize prey.
Photographed by: B. Czinski. Identified to family by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Sweetwater Township, Lake County, Michigan, USA. Date: 8 August, 2016.
B. Czinski says, “We found it climbing up the tent in northern mid-Michigan in the middle of a forest, dry and sandy.”
Lacewing larva
Green lacewing, larva, family Chrysopidae.
□ The large pincers and head of this larva of a green lacewing can be seen extending from a pile of debris that it has accumulated on its back. The debris help to conceal the larva, so it can sneak up on prey. Sometimes, the debris on its back are inedible bits and pieces from its prey.
Photographed by: Marv Goldberg. Identified to family by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Tamarac, Florida, USA. Date: 20 December, 2018.
Marv says, “Looks like an insect garbage collector. On a vertical surface; less than a quarter of an inch long (including its haul).”
Lacewing larva
Green lacewing, larva, family Chrysopidae.
Photographed by: Shanna Clankie. Identified to family by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: northern Illinois, USA. Date: 11 September, 2017.
Shanna says this little critter pinched her. “I jumped and it landed on my shirt where I took the picture.” KnowYourInsects.org applauds Shanna’ composure in taking a photo after getting pinched!
Lacewing larva
Green lacewing, larva, family Chrysopidae.
□ This immature aphid-loving green lacewing make an interesting introduction to the photographer. See his comments below.
Photographed by: William Molidor. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: northern Los Angeles County, California, USA. Date: 31 July, 2019.
William says, “This little (4 or 5 mm) thing was in my ear. Not down in the canal, just at the entrance.”
Lacewing eggs
Green lacewing eggs, likely Smith’s green lacewing, Ceraeochrysa smithi, family Chrysopidae.
□ Like other lacewings in the Chrysopidae family, female Smith’s green lacewings lay their eggs on long stalks, but Smith’s green lacewings are known for laying their eggs is a spiral, probably starting at the center and laying one egg after another as she spiralled outward.
Photographed by: Marv Goldberg. Identified to family by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Tamarac, Florida, USA. Date: 8 June, 2021.
Marv says he saw this egg spiral on his screen two weeks ago, and spotted the same thing on his neighbor’s screen.

Hemerobiidae (the brown lacewings)

Brown Lacewing, Hemerobius humulinus
Brown lacewing, Hemerobius humulinus, subfamily Hemerobiinae, family Hemerobiidae.
Photographed by Eric Smith. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Hoover, Alabama, USA. Date: 16 May 2017.
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Myrmeleontidae (the antlions)

Antlion (Glenurus gratus)
Antlion, Glenurus gratus, family Myrmeleontidae.
□ Wow! Look at the beautiful pink/lavender and black tips on the ends of the wings! The larvae of this species actually live in holes in trees, rather than buried in soil as other antlion larvae do. And as their name suggests, they prey on ants.
Photographed by Chris Moore. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Charleston, South Carolina, USA. Date: 14 June 2017.
Chris says, “It looks like a cross between a butterfly/moth and dragonfly, but I've never seen a bug with transparent wings with color on end of wings.... My critter-loving daughter, (who) I call Doodlebug, was stumped!”
Antlion (Glenurus gratus)
Antlion, Glenurus gratus, family Myrmeleontidae.
□ As an adult, this species of antlion can grow to be 2 inches (5 cm) long. See the photographer’s comment below.
Photographed and identified by: Carolyn Finelli. Location: Fenwick Island (near the seashore), Delaware, USA. Date: 19 July, 2018.
Carolyn says, “This insect was new to me so I snagged the photo to learn more about it. A truly fascinating insect, especially in the larva stage, but after all is said and done, it’s also a great ‘Ugly Duckling’ story as it goes from larva to adult. ”
Antlion (Glenurus gratus)
Antlion, Glenurus gratus, family Myrmeleontidae.
□ This species of antlion is sometimes called a picture-winged antlion. Its wings, which are crisscrossed with lots of veins, look like the tips have been dipped in paint.
Photographed by: Lori Herring. Location: Webster County, Missouri, USA. Date: 30 July, 2020.
Lori says, “This is the first insect of this sort that we have seen in forty years of living at the same location. We always have a healthy number of a variety of insects, but this was new to us.” KnowYourInsects.org says, “We LOVE when ‘new’ happens!”
Antlion (Glenurus gratus)
Antlion, Glenurus gratus, family Myrmeleontidae.
□ This scientific species name of this antlion is gratus, which means pleasing, and this insect is sometimes called a “pleasing picture-winged antlion.”
Photographed and identified by: Nichole Tweedle. Location: Marshal county Alabama, USA. Date: 28 June, 2020.
Nichole did the research and identified this one herself. She says, “I am new to Alabama and the southern parts of the United States, so still have a lot of learning to do!”
Antlion (Brachynemurus sackeni)
Antlion, male, Brachynemurus sackeni, subfamily Myrmeleontinae, family Myrmeleontidae.
□ The immature version of this antlion is often called a doodlebug. The curved appendages on the hind end (the “tails”) help distinguish this as a male.
Photographed by Bill Flor. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Los Alamos County, New Mexico, USA. Date: 2 July 2017.
Bill describes, “Photographed this insect on the siding of a house under an overhang on its north side.... It’s about an inch or a little more in length.”
North Carolina Antlion, Peruveleon dorsalis
North Carolina antlion, Peruveleon dorsalis, subfamily Myrmeleontinae, family Myrmeleontidae.
□ The North Carolina antlion has bristles along its legs, and a small white stigma (marking near the tip of each forewing).
Photographed by: Genesis Haskell. Submitted and identified by: Aubrey Wiggins. Location: Fayetteville, North Carolina, USA. Date: 22 May, 2018.
Aubrey says, “We both appreciate the service you are providing with your KnowYourInsect.org website.” KnowYourInsects.org says, “Glad to be of help!”
Antlion, Myrmeleon spp
Antlion in the genus Myrmeleon, subfamily Myrmeleontinae, family Myrmeleontidae.
□ With their long, thin bodies and narrow wings, antlions are often mistaken for damselflies, but they are in a different insect order altogether. Their wings, as shown here, are often irridescent.
Photographed by: Sheldon L. Boyd. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: The Villages, Florida, USA. Date: 9 June, 2018.
Antlion (Vella americana)
Antlion, Vella americana, subfamily Myrmeleontinae, family Myrmeleontidae.
□ This species of antlion has so many cool features: the banded antennae with the slight outward curl at the end, the bristly front legs, the geometric pattern on the back and the finely veined wings.
Photographed by: Trish Brown. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: central Florida, USA. Date: 17 September, 2020.
Trish says this approximately 3-inch-long visitor was quietly sitting outside her front door.
Antlion, Indopalpares pardus
Antlion, Indopalpares pardus, subfamily Palparinae, family Myrmeleontidae.
□ The speckled wings, gold thorax, and red and black legs help describe this pretty antlion. Note: Older classifications list this in the genus Palpares.
Photographed by: Spoorthi Sv. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: India. Date: 18 September, 2019.
Antlion in the genus Palpares
Antlion, possibly in the genus Palpares, subfamily Palparinae, family Myrmeleontidae.
□ Some members of this genus of antlions are quite large with body lengths of 5 cm (2.5 inches) or more, but the photographer estimates that this Antlion was “in the region of 3 cm” in body length.
Photographed by: Jill Dunstone. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: near Ficksburg, South Africa. Date: 2 May, 2020.
Giant Antlion, Palpares libelluloides
Giant antlion, Palpares libelluloides, subfamily Palparinae, family Myrmeleontidae.
□ The giant antlion can have a wingspan of nearly 4 inches (10 cm) (see the photographer’s comment below). The curved tip on each antennae is a feature shared by many other members of this family of insects.
Photographed by: Dimitar Popov. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Bulgaria, on the coast of Black Sea near the Turkey border. Date: 1 June, 2019.
Dimitar says, “What is shocking it its size: It is as big as grown man’ open paw.” Dimitar’s mother found it on her bedroom wall.
Antlion
Antlion, nymph (immature), family Myrmeleontidae.
□ This nymph of an antlion makes conical depressions in the sand to capture its prey: ants. Those are some formidable jaws! When it becomes an adult, it will develop wings and take on an appearance similar to that of the other antlions posted in this family. It is an amazing transformation.
Photographed by: Bapi Debnath. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Indranagar, Tripura, India. Date: 7 April, 2017.
Bapi says, “It lives in the dry soil making a short hole, and remains covered by soil.”
Spotted-winged Antlion (Dendroleon speciosus)
Spotted-winged antlion in the genus Dendroleon, subfamily Dendroleontinae), family Myrmeleontidae.
□ Different species of spotted-winged antlions have different patterns of spots on their wings. The United States has two species: Dendroleon speciosus, which has speckles, but no large black spots on its wings; and Dendroleon obsoleta, which typically has one quite large black spot on each hind wing, as seen by clicking here (bugguide-net).
Photographed and identified to genus by: Tommy Vick. Nice job, Tommy! Location: Davis Mountains, Fort Davis, Texas, USA. Date: 22 June, 2020.
Tommy says, “It decided to show off the wings when a little breeze came in.”
Antlion
Synclisis antlion, nymph (immature), Synclisis baetica, family Myrmeleontidae.
□ This synclisis antlion nymph has an intricate black-and-white pattern, but the most attention-getting feature is the pair of large, pincer-like jaws that it uses to capture and subdue prey. See the photographer’s description below.
□ The adult is gray and brown with quite hairy front legs and a pretty black pattern on its thorax. To see the adult, click here.
Photographed by: Yanni Petropoulos. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Identification confirmed by: Dr. Davide Badano of Sapienza University of Rome. Thank you, Dr. Badano! Location: mainland of southwest Greece. Date: 17 June, 2020.
Yanni found this antlion nymph in the sand on a beach. Yanni says, “I had to engineer a way to take it home and photograph it, which was to take sand in a bottle and use a colander at home to isolate it and stop it from escaping, because It was so fast! ”

Nemopteridae (the thread-winged antlions)

Thread-Winged Lacewing, or Thread-Winged Antlion (family Nemopteridae)
Thread-winged lacewing, or thread-winged antlion, family Nemopteridae.
□ Those two long filaments are what give the thread-winged lacewing its name. The filaments are actually much-modified hind wings, which are believed to possibly help stabilize the insect when it is in flight. Notice also the long, pointy snout on this insect, which is quite distinctive. The larvae (immatures) look nothing like the adults: They are wingless, live underground and prey upon little organisms they find there.
Photographed by: Asad Khan. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Pakistan. Date: 2 April, 2020.
Asad says, “It was in my lunch.”
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Ascalaphidae (the owlflies)

Owlfly (Ululodes spp.)
Owlfly in the genus Ululodes, subfamily Ululodinae, family Ascalaphidae.
□ The clubbed antennae and huge eyes are characteristic of the owlflies. This is a particular type of owlfly in the genus Ululodes, probably the Floridanus Owlfly (Ululodes floridanus).
Photographed by Ben Fletcher. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: South of Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Date: 13 September 2016.
Ben says it “appeared in the house after a very bad storm.”
Split-Eyed Owlfly (Ululodes quadripunctatus)
Split-eyed owlfly, Ululodes quadripunctatus, subfamily Ululodinae, family Ascalaphidae.
□ This split-eyed owlfly does indeed have large compound eyes, each of which is divided in two by a ridge. This species has intricate pattern of dark markings on its abdomen.
Photographed by Sebastian Zimler. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: St Augustine, Florida, USA. Date: 5 July 2020.
Ben says it “appeared in the house after a very bad storm.”
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Add your photo here! Owly Sulphur (Libelloides coccajus)
Owly sulphur, female, Libelloides coccajus, subfamily Ascalaphinae, family Ascalaphidae.
□ This owlfly, called the owly sulphur, has brilliant white on its wings, a delicate yellow pattern on its thorax and head, and a burst of dark hair at the front of its head.
Photographed by: Alistair Scott-Smith. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Acquedotto Pugliese footpath between Alberobello and Locorotondo, Puglia, southern Italy. Date: 13 May, 2019.
Alistair says, “It was originally spotted by my friend John Serenyi, but he didn’t have a decent camera with him... We had no real idea at all what it was, though I did wonder if it was some sort of lacewing species.”
Owly Sulphur (Libelloides coccajus)
Owly sulphur, male, Libelloides coccajus, subfamily Ascalaphinae, family Ascalaphidae.
□ Depending on the individual, the wings of the owly sulphur may have white to yellow patches on them (see the photographer’s comment below).
Photographed by: Paul Davies. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: near the Sibillini Mountains, Marche, Italy. Date: 13 May, 2019.
Paul says, “There were a number of them in the last two days across the olive grove here.... They are spectacular-looking insects, and some with yellow and some with white markings.”
Owlfly (Ascalaphidae)
Owlfly, Ascalaphus ronkayorum, family Ascalaphidae.
□ This owlfly is very similar to another species known as Ascalaphus tessellatus, but as noted in a recent description (2021), has more transparent wings and a spur on its tibia (“shin”) that is equal in length to its front tarsus (“foot”).
□ This genus is often listed under its former name of Ogcogaster. Photographed and identified to family by: Dr. Pushan Chakraborty of the Jogamaya Devi College Department of Zoology. Identified to genus by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Durgapur, Paschim Bardhman, West Bengal, India. Date: 18 July, 2021.
Owlfly (Ascalaphidae)
Owlfly, Ascalaphus ronkayorum, family Ascalaphidae.
□ Many species of owlflies are active at night, which is why they have the name owlflies. This one has a beautiful black and yellow pattern on its body, and a widened end on its abdomen.
Photographed by: Shubham Bhardwaj. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Jasrota Wildlife Sanctuary, Udhampur, India. Date: 17 September, 2020.

Mantispidae (the mantisflies)

Wasp Mantisfly (Dicromantispa sayi)
Wasp mantisfly, Dicromantispa sayi, subfamily Mantispinae, family Mantispidae.
□ This wasp mantisfly has the characteristic wings of other insects in the order Neuroptera, but the enlarged forelegs — and the posture of holding them folded like this — more reminescent of a praying mantis.
Photographed and identified by: Jackie Lucier. Location: Ontario, Canada. Date: 26 July, 2013.
Wasp Mantisfly (Dicromantispa sayi)
Wasp mantisfly, Dicromantispa sayi, subfamily Mantispinae, family Mantispidae.
□ Another feature of the wasp mantisfly (and other mantisflies) is the enlongated thorax.
Photographed and identified by: Jackie Lucier. Location: Ontario, Canada. Date: 26 July, 2013.
Mantisfly
Mantisfly, family Mantispidae.
□ The photographer guessed this might be a baby praying mantis, and it does look like that! The wings, however, help to distinguish it as a mantisfly. They are membranous and criss-crossed with lots of veins.
Photographed by: Lisa Hetchler. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.og. Location: southern Michigan. Date: 21 September, 2019.
Mantidfly (Plega spp.)
Mantidfly in the genus Plega, subfamily Symphrasinae, family Mantispidae.
□ This mantidfly looks very much like a mantid with its triangular head and raptorial forelegs, but the wings give it away as a Neuropteran. One of the forelegs is extended here, but when not in use, the Mantidfly folds the forelegs and holds them close to its body.
Photographed and identified by: Tommy Vick. Nice identification, Tommy! Location: Fort Davis, Texas, USA. Date: 24 May, 2020.
Mantidfly (Plega spp.)
Mantidfly in the genus Plega, subfamily Symphrasinae, family Mantispidae.
□ This beautiful shot displays this mantidfly with its raptorial forelegs bent. It also showcases the amazingly intricate net of veins in its wings.
Photographed and identified by: Tommy Vick. Location: Fort Davis, Texas, USA. Date: 27 May, 2020.
Tommy says, “This place is really buzzing right now.”
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Photos at the top of this website are (from left to right): potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) — photo credit: Scott Bauer, U.S. Department of Agriculture; ebony jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata)— photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; sweat bee (Agapostemon splendens) — photo credit: Natalie Allen and Stephanie Kolski, U.S. Geological Survey; preying mantis, monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), hellgrammite (aka toe biter) larva and eyed click beetle (Alaus oculatus) — photo credit: Leslie Mertz; Halloween pennant (Celithemis eponina) — photo credit: Kay Meng, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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