Friday 6 December 2013


Image: Kristi
Tut, tut. What an awful display of opulence! I've seen silver and pearl necklaces for pet pooches, but gold for your Osmylid? That's too much!

It's time again to delve into that fascinating yet little-known order of insects known as Neuroptera, the Net-winged Insects.

We all know about the famous Antlions, those diabolical beasts with their sandy doom-pits and vicious jaws. Remember how Antlion in Greek was Myrmeleon? And how they belonged to a suborder called Myrmeleontiformia, which basically means "bit like an Antlion" because all the larvae were a bit like an Antlion? And how Owlflies were a particularly good example because they took the Antlion template and squished it?

Of course you do!

Image: Shaun Winterton
Well, this time we're taking a look at a good example of the other major group within Neuroptera - Hemerobiiformia. It's the Osmylids!

Osmylidae is a small family of Net-winged Insects found across the world, but not in North America. That's probably because they've seen the movies and know that that's where the aliens attack first.

The larvae live in dark, damp places, under loose bark on trees or beneath stones. Many live right next to streams and are amphibious and some are completely aquatic. They have a pair of tiny hooks on their tail end but mostly they have a massive pair of long tusks sticking out of their face. Where would Neuroptera be without their massive pair of tusks? Mediocrity, that's where.

These mouth parts look like one of those hairpins my grandmother used to use. Those sharp ones that are probably banned on aircraft by now. Larval Osmylids use them to snatch up small prey and suck out their insides.

Image: Shaun Winterton
The larvae later pupate and a brown thing soon emerges. These brown things can have a wingspan of up to 3 cm (an inch) across and look exactly as a small, brown, flying insect should. If I think back to my time in the land of mortals, I seem to recall that many people were not greatly interested in insects. For them, most Osmylids are deep within the "I neither know nor care" class of insects.

Image: Shaun Winterton
Porismus strigatus
A few, like Australia's Pied Lacewing, are more extravagant and attractive. I'm sure a lot of people still wouldn't care. They'll be all over it when some designer becomes inspired by those wings and paints a couch in the exact same pattern.


TexWisGirl said...

dang! fancy-pants!

Joseph JG said...

They got crazy style!

Crunchy said...

Oh? You're a /silver/fish? Well how /good/ for you!

Joseph JG said...

I hope there's a bronze one somewhere. Let the sarcasm reign supreme!