Saturday, March 3, 2012

Australian of the Week: Blue-eyed Nymph

Blue-eyed Lacewing from Brisbane

As I was contemplating the dreary grey and white morning, and thinking of blow flies, I realized that I hadn’t had an Australian of the Week posting for quite some time. That series was designed to take me away from winter for a moment, and such a moment is now needed. So, herein I present an oldie but goodie: Nymphes myrmeleonoides Leach, 1814, the type species of the family Nymphidae. The original picture was taken with an old-fashioned SLR camera and captured on a material called ‘colour-slide film’, so this is really a bit of nostalgia. The original slide was digitized on an ancient scanner, so the transfer isn’t the best, but will have to do.
Hatched eggs of Nymphes in 'horseshoe' array 
Nymphes appears to be from the French for ‘nymph’, one of those delightful spirits that animate Nature. And these large, antlion-like nerve-winged insects (Neuroptera) are rather delightful. Nymphes eggs are one of the mysteries that I encountered when I first arrived in Queensland – horseshoe arrays of small white blobs on threads. At first I thought they were fungi, but once I saw the tiny gremlins that hatched out of them, I had a better idea. Alas, we have only another old, scanned slide of hatched eggs to offer, but Tony Knight at the Australian Museum has better pictures on offer.
Golden-eyed Chrysoperla chi
 In Alberta, we have no Blue-eyed Lacewings, but we do have a number (four genera, 9 species) of Green Lacewings (Chrysopidae) that often have delightfully golden eyes. Their larvae aren’t as gremlinish as those of Nymphes or antlions, but have their own bug geeky attractiveness.
Aphid lion - larvae of Green Lacewing
 Members of the Nymphidae currently appear to be restricted to Australia, New Guinea, and Lord Howe Island, but in the Jurassic ranged across most of the World. In the early Eocene, a Nymphes apparently lived in North America (Archibald et al. 2009). Alas, no more.
Chrysoperla oculata

Archibald SB, Makarin VN & J Ansorge. 2009. New fossil species of Nymphidae (Neuroptera) from the Eocene of North America and Europe. Zootaxa 2157: 59-68.

Garland JA & DK Mce Kevin. 2007. Chrysopidae of Canada and Alaska (Insecta, Neuroptera): revised checklist, new and noteworthy records, and geo-referenced localities. Zootaxa 1486:  1-84.


  1. I only discovered lacewings a few years ago and think they are gorgeous. Even nicer to find out they are aphid eaters too!

  2. Yes, it is always nice when something pretty isn't poison.