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Information on the basics of Entomology


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Entomology:  NEUROPTERA 1

Kingdom:  Animalia, Phylum: Arthropoda

Subphylum: Hexapoda: Class: Insecta: Order: Neuroptera



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Pteragota:  Holometabola

  Order:  Neuroptera (28 Families)

    General Summary



    Morphology & Habits

    Families of Neuroptera

    Sample Examinations

    References      Citations


General Summary of Neuroptera


          There are two pairs of large, broad wings, the posterior ones having a large anal field. The longitudinal veins branch freely and cross-veins are common, especially behind the anterior border.  A pterostigma or pigmented area located laterally on the anterior border is either missing or weakly defined. At rest the wings are held over the back in a roof-like manner.

          Their larvae are carnivorous and always aquatic.  They bear on the abdomen a series of pairs of gills that are jointed and which are moved by intrinsic muscles.  Sialis lutaria, the alder fly alderfly occurs in Northern Europe. Corydalus of North and South America and Archichauliodes of Australia and New Zealand are other examples (
Borradaile & Potts, 1958).


          Suborder Raphidiodea:  are insects of small size. They have two pairs of similar hyaline wings with freely branching longitudinal veins and a well-marked pterostigma are characteristic. The head projects forwards and is flattened above and narrowed toward the prothoracic junction. This, together with the elongated sub-cylindrical prothorax and the elongated 10th segment of the abdomen, gives them the name "Snakeflies."  The larvae are terrestrial.  Raphidia is Northern European


         Suborder Planipennia (Lacewings and Ant lions):  There is a wide range of form and size in this group, both very large and very small insects included. There is also much variation in the wings because in some forms, e.g. Ithone, the two pairs of wings are identical while in others, e.g. Nemoptera, the posterior ones are elongated to narrow strap-like structures several times larger than the body.  However, all except the small Coniopterygidae agree in having an abundantly branching venation with many cross-veins. Metamorphosis is complete.

          Larvae of the majority of Planipennia are terrestrial as in Myrmeleon, the ant lion.  However, some like Sisyra are aquatic and parasitic in he freshwater sponge, Spongilla.   General features of the larvae of Planipennia are the forward extended, curved and pointed mandibles and maxillae, which are so arranged as to form between them at each side a food tube up which the blood of their prey is drawn.  Larvae are mostly predaceous.  Hemerobius, Sisyra, Chrysopa, etc. are found in Northern Europe (
Borradaile & Potts, 1958).




Morphology & Habits


          The name Neuroptera means, "nerve-winged."  They have complete metamorphosis and their wings are developed internally.  The larvae are either aquatic or terrestrial, e.g., the Dobsonfly has aquatic larvae while ant and aphis lions have terrestrial larvae.


          The larvae have chewing mouthparts but feed by sucking.  They possess a pincher-like mandible with opposing maxillae.  The mandible is grooved, the maxilla acting as a cover.  Together they form a food channel that connects with the mouth cavity.



          Green lacewing larvae are important aphid predators.  


          Pupation occurs on land and the pupae are active.  The adult possesses large mandibles also, while the wing venation is similar to the damselfly (Odonata).  All Neuroptera have knobbed antennae.


          Ant lions may live several years, especially if food is not too plentiful.  The adults are either predators or nonfeeding.  Many species are highly beneficial as predators of destructive insects. The eggs are laid on a stalk as a protection from predation by other members of the same species.  At first the eggs are laid in the prone position, but they later spring up.



          Aphis lions are called "green lacewings" in the adult stage.


          There are some modifications within the order.  Some adults possess raptorial legs.  Sialidae larvae have gills on the abdomen, which are located laterally and are segmented.


          Neuroptera show some affinities with other groups such as Coleoptera to which they are closely related.




Families of Neuroptera


          Some of the common families of Neuroptera are distinguished according to their shapes and habits as follows (see Borror et al. 1989 for details):


   Apochrysidae <Habits>; <Adults> & <Juveniles>

   Ascalaphidae. -- <Habits>; <Adults> & <Juveniles> -- Owl flies resemble dragonflies with long antennae.

   Berothidae. -- <Habits>; <Adults> & <Juveniles> -- Beaded lacewings.

   Chrysopidae. -- <Habits>; <Adults> & <Juveniles> -- Common lacewings green & 2nd largest family in order.

   Coniopterygidae. -- <Habits>; <Adults> & <Juveniles> -- Dusty wings are tiny insects of only 3 mm in length.

   Corydalidae. -- <Habits>; <Adults> & <Juveniles> -- Dobson flies and fish flies are usually longer than 25 mm.

                                 damselflies with long, narrow, many-veined wings and a long slender abdomen.

   Dilaridae. -- <Habits>; <Adults> & <Juveniles> -- Pleasing lacewings.

   Hemerobiidae. -- <Habits>; <Adults> & <Juveniles> -- Brown lacewings.

   Inocelliidae. -- <Habits>; <Adults> & <Juveniles> -- Small insects with front wings of 11-17 mm.

   Ithonidae. -- <Habits>; <Adults> & <Juveniles> -- A rare group with a wingspread of 35-40 mm.

   Mantispidae. -- <Habits>; <Adults> & <Juveniles> -- Mantid flies resemble mantids (Orthoptera)

   Myiodactylidae <Habits>; Adults> & <Juveniles> -- Split-footed lacewings often included with the Nymphidae.                                                                     

   Myrmeleontidae. -- <Habits>; <Adults> & <Juveniles> -- Ant lions are the largest family in this order.

   Nemopteridae <Habits>; <Adults> & <Juveniles> -- Generally included in the Nymphidae.

   Nymphidae <Habits>; <Adults> & <Juveniles> -- Split-footed lacewings

   Osmylidae <Habits>; <Adults> & <Juveniles> -- A small family of Giant lacewings.

   Polystoechotidae. -- <Habits>; <Adults> & <Juveniles> -- Giant lacewings with a wing spread of 40-75 mm. 

                                            Generally included in the Ithonidae.

   Psychopsidae <Habits>; <Adults> & <Juveniles> -- Silky lacewings

   Raphidiidae. -- <Habits>; <Adults> & <Juveniles> -- The front wing length varies from 6-17 mm.

   Sialidae. -- <Habits>; <Adults> & <Juveniles> -- Alder flies, which are dark colored and about 25 mm. long.

   Sisyridae. -- <Habits>; <Adults> & <Juveniles> -- Spongilla flies appear as brownish lacewings.

   Stilbopterygidae <Habits>; <Adults> & <Juveniles> -- Indecisive group related to the Myrmeleontidae.

   Sympherobiidae <Habits>; <Adults> & <Juveniles>  -- Indecisive group of Neuroptera.

   Trichomatidae <Habits>; <Adults> & <Juveniles> -- Generally considered a subfamily of Berothidae



Details of Insect Taxonomic Groups


          Examples of beneficial species occur in almost every insect order, and considerable information on morphology and habits has been assembled.  Therefore, the principal groups of insect parasitoids and predators provide details that refer to the entire class Insecta.  These details are available at <taxnames.htm>.








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