Field and Swamp: Animals and Their Habitats

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Net-winged Insects (Neuroptera order, infraclass Neoptera, subclass Pterygota, class Insecta, subphylum Hexapoda, phylum Arthropoda, kingdom Animalia, domain Eukarya)

The Neuroptera are economically important predaceous insects with hollow, pointed mandibles used to seize prey and suck their bodily fluids out.   They experience complete metamorphosis.  They are terrestrial even as larvae.  As adults, they have four large wings which they fold up when not flying; these wings have an uniform network of veins.

Mantid Lacewings (Mantispidae family, Mantispoidea superfamily)

Mantidfly, Durham, NC, 7/15/16

Lacewings (Hemerobiiformia suborder)

These are photos of Green and Brown Lacewings.  Apparently some Green Lacewing species larvae are what Eisner (2003) calls "trash carriers," using plucked plant leaf trichomes to hide themselves from predators (usually True Bugs).  On the other hand, some Brown Lacewing (Hemerobiidae family) species larvae earn the name "trash bugs" by carrying miscellaneous debris on their backs, according to the  University of Florida/State of Florida and the University of Kentucky's Critter Files Brown Lacewing section.   This sounds a familiar note for this website in general: the discovery of greater behavioral variation within families than across them.

But here all the "trash carriers" are green lacewing larvae, and the other larvae are brown lacewings.

Green Lacewings (Chrysopidae family)

Green Lacewing (genus Chrysoperla, family Chrysopidae), Durham on 10/16/07, 8/2/05, 7/3/07, 12/12/08, 12/29/05 and 5/25/06, respectively.  The carnivorous larvae are used to control pests, as described at Cornell University's website on useful insect predators.   Adult wing pattern and shape, not color, distinguishes it from the Brown Lacewing (see below).


Green Lacewing larva (Durham, NC, 8/11/08), a "trash carrier."  The larva is facing the camera, with its brown pincers facing forward; note the four stripes on its head.  When we see a white fluffy mass moving around a leaf, this is what's underneath. Green lacewing larva pinching my fingertip, Durham, NC, 6/11/09.  These trash-carrying larvae are always trying to pick up a little more matter for their camouflaging burden, which includes everything from leaf trichomes (hairlike projections) to dead insects. Green Lacewing  larva, Durham, 7/12/05.  According to Eisner (2003, p. 305), Chrysopidae larvae build the protective white mass they carry around out of trichomes, hairlike projections on the surface of leaves. This larva above may be using its pincers for just that purpose. 

Brown Lacewings (Hemerobiidae family)

Brown Lacewing, Durham, NC, 5/1/07 Brown Lacewing, Penny's Bend Nature Preserve, Durham, NC, 4/4/09 Brown lacewing larva on goldenrod, Boone, Watauga County, NC, 8/3/12 Brown lacewing larva with (pale) aphid prey, Durham, NC, 11/15/13 Brown lacewing larva, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 5/20/11.  Brown lacewing larva, Boone, Watauga County, NC 8/7/06. This tiny insect was barely visible to the naked eye.

Antlions (Myrmeleontidae family, Myrmeleontoidea superfamily, Myrmeleontiformia suborder)

Antlion (Vella americanum), between 2 and 3 inches long.  Great camouflage!  I saw the antlion flying to the tree, its wings sparkling in the sun. Antlion (Vella fallax), Carolina Beach State Park, New Hanover County, NC, 8/7/18      

  2006-2019 Dorothy E. Pugh

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Megaloptera, Neuroptera, Mecoptera