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Insect Identification Key
Order Neuroptera: the lacewings and antlions

Lacewing
Adult common green lacewing (Chrysoperla carnia). Photographed in Oxfordshire, England. Photos by Charles J. Sharp. Click here to see examples of more Neuropterans!

Based on your answers to the questions, you have identified your insect as being in the order Neuroptera!

Members of this order include: lacewings, antlions, owlflies and mantidflies.

Etymology: Neuroptera comes from the Greek words neura, which means sinew or nerve, and ptera, which means wings. This describes the nerve-like web of veins that extends across the wings.

General characteristics:
• long, thin, cylindrical body
• large compound eyes
• two pairs of similarly sized and shaped, large, membranous, net-veined wings
• when at rest, the wings are either held above the body in a roof-like formation
• a series of small “windowpanes” along the leading edge of the wings, formed by numerous parallel crossveins
• multisegmented antennae
chewing mouthparts
• no cerci
holometabolous metamorphosis (egg — larvapupa — adult)

Click here to see examples of more Neuropterans!

Number of recognized species worldwide: about 4,000

Classification:

Kingdom Animalia
   Phylum Arthropoda
      Class Insecta
         Order Neuroptera

For a list of all of the orders in this key, click here: List of Orders.

Classification note: The order Neuroptera once included insects that are now in the orders Megaloptera and Raphidioptera. The order Megaloptera includes the alderflies and dobsonflies; and the order Raphidioptera includes the snakeflies.

Oops! If this doesn't appear to be the order for your insect, go back through the key and look more carefully at your insect while answering the questions again. Your perseverance will reward you!

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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, DailyGraceCards.com; Halloween pennant (Celithemis eponina) — photo credit: Kay Meng, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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