A charismatic new lacewing from Malaysia discovered online by chance

August 8, 2012
This shows the habitat of Semachrysa jade sp. n., rainforest, Selangor State Park, Selangor, Malaysia. Credit: Guek Hock Ping

Green lacewings are delicate green insects with large, lace-like wings that live in a wide variety of habitats, especially tropical forests. Adults mostly feed on flowers, but the larvae are ferocious predators of other insects, frequently carrying the dead carcasses of their prey on their backs after killing them using their enormous, sucking tube-like jaws.

In this study, a beautiful new species of green lacewing in the genus Semachrysa is described from the Malaysian rainforest. The wing pattern is its most distinctive feature. Yet, this discovery could have been missed by scientists, as the only documented evidence that the new species existed was an exquisite series of images posted online in Flickr after the insect was released.

Adult green lacewing (Semachrysa jade sp. n.) Credit: Guek Hock Ping

Only after scientists came across the images online by chance, efforts were made to capture more specimens so that this species could be formally described as new to science. Without an actual specimen to place in a museum as a reference, a formal description is not possible. One year later another, individual was collected at the same locality and the scientists and professional photographer joined forces to collaborate on the description of this new species, which was published in the journal ZooKeys.

This is an adult green lacewing (Semachrysa jade sp. n.). Credit: Guek Hock Ping

Explore further: Small insects attack and kill amphibians much bigger than themselves

More information: Winterton SL, Guek HP, Brooks SJ (2012) A charismatic new species of green lacewing discovered in Malaysia (Neuroptera, Chrysopidae): the confluence of citizen scientist, online image database and cybertaxonomy. ZooKeys 214: 1. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.214.3220

Related Stories

Naming new plant species moves online

February 1, 2012

There are more than 380,000 plant species known to science, with many more around the world still to be found, identified and scientifically named. But this mighty task will now be more efficient for plant scientists, ...

Flying jewels spell death for baby spiders

March 2, 2012

Spider flies are a rarely collected group of insects. Adults are considered important pollinators of flowers, while larvae live as internal parasitoids of juvenile spiders. Eight genera are recorded in Australasia, including ...

Recommended for you

'Hog-nosed rat' discovered in Indonesia

October 6, 2015

Museum of Natural Science Curator of Mammals Jake Esselstyn at Louisiana State University and his international collaborators have discovered a new genus and species on a remote, mountainous island in Indonesia. This new ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.