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Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Protostomia
Cladus: Ecdysozoa
Cladus: Panarthropoda
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Hexapoda
Classis: Insecta
Cladus: Dicondylia
Subclassis: Pterygota
Cladus: Metapterygota
Infraclassis: Neoptera
Cladus: Eumetabola
Cladus: Endopterygota
Superordo: Neuropterida
Ordo: Neuroptera
Subordines: Hemerobiiformia - Myrmeleontiformia
Familiae incertae sedis

†Grammolingiidae – †Grammosmylidae – †Osmylopsychopidae – †Permithonidae – †Saucrosmylidae – †Mesohemerobius – †Nymphites

Neuroptera Linnaeus, 1758


Linnaeus, C. 1758. Systema Naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Editio Decima, Reformata. Tomus I. Holmiæ (Stockholm): impensis direct. Laurentii Salvii. 824 pp. DOI: 10.5962/bhl.title.542 BHL Reference page.
Liu, Q. et al. 2013: A new genus of Saucrosmylinae (Insecta, Neuroptera) from the Middle Jurassic of Daohugou, Inner Mongolia, China. Zootaxa 3736(4): 387–391. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.3736.4.6 Reference page.
New, T.R. 1987: The Neuroptera (Insecta) of Norfolk Island. Invertebrate taxonomy, 1(3): 257–268. DOI: 10.1071/IT9870257
Aspöck et al. 2001: Cladistic analysis of Neuroptera and their systematic position within Neuropterida (Insecta: Holometabola: Neuropterida: Neuroptera). Systematic Entomology. 26: 73–86.

Additional references

Archibald, S.B. & Makarkin, V.N. 2015. The second genus and species of the extinct neuropteroid family Corydasialidae, from early Eocene McAbee, British Columbia, Canada: do they belong to Megaloptera? Zootaxa 4040(5): 569–575. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4040.5.5. Preview (PDF) Full article (PDF) Reference page.
Blades, D.C.A. 2019. Neuroptera of Canada. Pp 387–392 In Langor, D.W. & Sheffield, C.S. (eds.). The Biota of Canada – A Biodiversity Assessment. Part 1: The Terrestrial Arthropods. ZooKeys 819: 520 pp. Reference page. . DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.819.26683 Reference page.
Fang, H., Ren, D., Liu, J-X. & Wang, Y-J. 2018. Revision of the lacewing genus Laccosmylus with two new species from the Middle Jurassic of China (Insecta, Neuroptera, Saucrosmylidae). ZooKeys 790: 115–126. DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.790.28286 Reference page.
Letardi, A., Abdel-Dayem, M.S. & Al Dhafer, H.M. 2020. New faunal data on lacewings (Insecta, Neuroptera) collected from Saudi Arabia. ZooKeys, 936: 111–148. DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.936.49962 Open access Reference page.
Ponomarenko, A.G. & D.E. Shcherbakov, 2004: New lacewings (Neuroptera) from the terminal Permian and basal Triassic of Siberia. Paleontological Journal 38(Suppl 2):197-203
Yi, P., Yu, P., Liu, J-Y., Xu, H. & Liu, X-Y. 2018. A DNA barcode reference library of Neuroptera (Insecta, Neuropterida) from Beijing. Zookeys, 807: 127–147. DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.807.29430 Reference page.

Vernacular names
Alemannisch: Netzfligler
беларуская: Сеткакрылыя
čeština: Síťokřídlí
Deutsch: Netzflügler
English: Net-winged Insects
eesti: Võrktiivalised
فارسی: بال‌توری‌ها
suomi: Verkkosiipiset
français: Névroptère
עברית: מרושתי כנף
magyar: Igazi recésszárnyúak
日本語: アミメカゲロウ目 (脈翅目)
한국어: 풀잠자리목 (맥시목)
lietuvių: Tinklasparniai
Nederlands: Netvleugeligen
norsk: Nettvinger
polski: Sieciarki
português: Neuroptera
slovenčina: Sieťokrídlovce
српски / srpski: Мрежокрилци
svenska: Nätvingar
Türkçe: Sinir kanatlılar
українська: Сітчастокрилі
中文: 脈翅目

The insect order Neuroptera, or net-winged insects, includes the lacewings, mantidflies, antlions, and their relatives. The order consists of some 6,000 species.[1] Neuroptera can be grouped together with the Megaloptera and Raphidioptera in the unranked taxon Neuropterida (once known as Planipennia) including: alderflies, fishflies, dobsonflies, and snakeflies.

Adult Neuropterans have four membranous wings, all about the same size, with many veins. They have chewing mouthparts, and undergo complete metamorphosis.

Neuropterans first appeared during the Permian period, and continued to diversify through the Mesozoic era.[2] During this time, several unusually large forms evolved, especially in the extinct family Kalligrammatidae, often called "the butterflies of the Jurassic" for their large, patterned wings.[3]
Anatomy and biology

Neuropterans are soft-bodied insects with relatively few specialized features. They have large lateral compound eyes, and may or may not also have ocelli. Their mouthparts have strong mandibles suitable for chewing, and lack the various adaptations found in most other endopterygote insect groups.

They have four wings, usually similar in size and shape, and a generalised pattern of veins.[4] Some neuropterans have specialised sense organs in their wings, or have bristles or other structures to link their wings together during flight.[5]

The larvae are specialised predators, with elongated mandibles adapted for piercing and sucking. The larval body form varies between different families, depending on the nature of their prey. In general, however, they have three pairs of thoracic legs, each ending in two claws. The abdomen often has adhesive discs on the last two segments.[5]
Life cycle and ecology
Lifecycle of lacewings

The larvae of most families are predators. Many chrysopids, hemerobids and coniopterygids eat aphids and other pest insects, and some have been used for biological control (either from commercial distributors, but also abundant and widespread in nature).[6][7]
Larva of Osmylus fulvicephalus, Osmylidae

Larva of Sisyra sp., Sisyridae

Larvae in various families cover themselves in debris (sometimes including dead prey insects) as camouflage, taken to an extreme in the ant lions, which bury themselves completely out of sight and ambush prey from "pits" in the soil. Larvae of some Ithonidae are root feeders, and larvae of Sisyridae are aquatic, and feed on freshwater sponges. A few mantispids are parasites of spider egg sacs.

As in other holometabolic orders, the pupal stage is enclosed in some form of cocoon composed of silk and soil or other debris. The pupa eventually cuts its way out of the cocoon with its mandibles, and may even move about for a short while before undergoing the moult to the adult form.[5]

Adults of many groups are also predatory, but some do not feed, or consume only nectar.

Beetles, wasps, and some lake flies parasitize neuropteran larvae.
One of the "butterflies of the Jurassic", Sophogramma lii (Kalligrammatidae)
Patterned wing of Paleogene (49 mya) fossil Palaeopsychops marringerae (Ithonidae)
Fossil history

Neuropterans first appeared near the end of the Permian period, as shown by fossils of the Permithonidae from the Tunguska basin in Siberia and a similar fauna from Australia.[2]

The osmylids are of Jurassic or Early Cretaceous origin and may be the most ancient of the Neuropteran groups.[8] The extinct osmylid Protosmylus is fossilized in middle Eocene Baltic amber.[9] The genus Burmaleon is described from two fossils of Cenomanian age Burmese amber, implying crown group radiation in the Early Cretaceous or earlier.[10][11] The family Kalligrammatidae lived from the Jurassic to Aptian (Lower Cretaceous) periods.[12]

Ithonidae are from the Jurassic to Recent, and the extinct lineages of the family were widespread geographically.[13]

Molecular analysis in 2018 using mitochondrial rRNA and mitogenomic data places the Neuroptera within the Neuropterida, sister to the Raphidioptera and containing the Megaloptera (sister to the rest of the Neuroptera).[14][8] The fossil record has contributed to the understanding of the group's phylogeny.[1][15][16][17] Relationships within the Myrmeleontiformia are still in flux.[18]


Raphidioptera (snakeflies) Snakefly R. confinis? (cropped).jpg


Megaloptera (alderflies and allies) Schlammfliege Sialis sp 5325.jpg

Osmylidae (giant lacewings) Oedosmylus sp crop.jpg


Hemerobiidae (brown lacewings) Micromus variegatus01.jpg

Ithonidae (moth lacewings) Rapisma sp- <a href=India crop.jpg" decoding="async" srcset="// 1.5x, // 2x" data-file-width="891" data-file-height="717" height="60" width="75" />

Mantispidae (mantidflies) Mantispidae fg1.jpg

Chrysopidae (green lacewings) Chrysoperla carnea Guldoeje.jpg


Psychopsidae (silky lacewings) Silky Lacewing (6769953805).jpg

Nymphidae (split-footed lacewings) Nymphes myrmeleonoides (3155078680) crop.jpg

Nemopteridae (spoonwings) Nemoptera sp. MHNT.ZOO.2004.0.736.jpg

Myrmeleontidae (antlions) Distoleon tetragrammicus01.jpg

Ascalaphidae (owlflies) Libelloides coccajus 210505.jpg


Basal forms

Genus: Mantispidiptera Grimaldi, 2000 (Late Cretaceous; New Jersey; formerly Mantispidae)
Genus: Mesohemerobius Ping, 1928(Late Jurassic/Early Cretaceous; China)
Family Permithonidae † (probably paraphyletic)
Family Prohemerobiidae † (probably paraphyletic)
Family Nevrorthidae[Note 1]
Family Grammosmylidae †
Family Osmylitidae † (probably paraphyletic)

Superfamily Osmyloidea

Family Osmylidae: osmylids

Suborder Hemerobiiformia

Superfamily Ithonioidea
Family Ithonidae: moth lacewings (includes Rapismatidae and Polystoechotidae)
Superfamily Chrysopoidea
Family Ascalochrysidae †
Family Mesochrysopidae †
Family Chrysopidae: green lacewings, stinkflies (formerly in Hemerobioidea)
Superfamily Hemerobioidea
Family Hemerobiidae: brown lacewings
Superfamily Coniopterygoidea
Family Coniopterygidae: dustywings
Family Sisyridae: spongillaflies (formerly in Osmyloidea, tentatively placed here)
Superfamily Mantispoidea
Family Dilaridae: pleasing lacewings (formerly in Hemerobioidea)
Family Dipteromantispidae †
Family Mantispidae: mantidflies
Family Mesithonidae † (probably paraphyletic)
Family Rhachiberothidae: thorny lacewings
Family Berothidae: beaded lacewings

Suborder Myrmeleontiformia

Superfamily Nemopteroidea[19]
Family Kalligrammatidae †
Family Psychopsidae: silky lacewings (formerly in Hemerobioidea)
Family Nemopteridae: spoonwings, spoon-winged laceflies, thread-winged laceflies (formerly in Myrmeleontoidea)
Superfamily Myrmeleontoidea
Family Osmylopsychopidae †
Family Solenoptilidae † (probably paraphyletic)
Family Brogniartiellidae †
Family Nymphidae: split-footed lacewings (includes Myiodactylidae)
Family Babinskaiidae †
Family Myrmeleontidae: antlions (includes Palaeoleontidae)
Family Ascalaphidae: owlflies, ascalaphids

In human culture

The use of Neuroptera in biological control of insect pests has been investigated, showing that it is difficult to establish and maintain populations in fields of crops.[20]

Five species of Neuroptera are among 1681 insect species eaten by humans worldwide.[21]

The New Guinea Highland people claim to be able to maintain a muscular build and great stamina despite their low protein intake as a result of eating insects including Neuroptera.[22]

"Neurorthidae" is a lapsus.


David Grimaldi & Michael S. Engel (2005). Evolution of the Insects. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-82149-5.
A. G. Ponomarenko & D. E. Shcherbakov (2004). "New lacewings (Neuroptera) from the terminal Permian and basal Triassic of Siberia" (PDF). Paleontological Journal. 38 (S2): S197–S203.
Michael S. Engel (2005). "A remarkable kalligrammatid lacewing from the Upper Jurassic of Kazakhstan (Neuroptera: Kalligrammatidae)". Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science. 108 (1): 59–62. doi:10.1660/0022-8443(2005)108[0059:ARKLFT]2.0.CO;2.
Breitkreuz, L. C. V.; Winterton, S. L.; Engel, M. S. (2017). "Wing tracheation in Chrysopidae and other Neuropterida (Insecta): a resolution of the confusion about vein fusion". American Museum Novitates (3890): 1–44. doi:10.1206/3890.1. S2CID 55878344.
Hoell, H. V., Doyen, J. T. & Purcell, A. H. (1998). Introduction to Insect Biology and Diversity, 2nd ed. Oxford University Press. pp. 447–450. ISBN 0-19-510033-6.
Senior, L. J.; McEwen, P. K. (June 2001). The use of lacewings in biological control. Lacewings in the Crop Environment. Cambridge University Press. pp. 296–302. doi:10.1017/cbo9780511666117.014. ISBN 978-0511666117.
Monserrat, Víctor J. (2015-12-30). "Los hemeróbidos de la Península Ibérica y Baleares (Insecta, Neuropterida, Neuroptera: Hemerobiidae)". Graellsia (in Spanish). 71 (2): 026. doi:10.3989/graellsia.2015.v71.129. ISSN 1989-953X.
Yan, Y.; Wang Y, Liu, X.; Winterton, S. L.; Yang, D. (2014). "The First Mitochondrial Genomes of Antlion (Neuroptera: Myrmeleontidae) and Split-footed Lacewing (Neuroptera: Nymphidae), with Phylogenetic Implications of Myrmeleontiformia". Int J Biol Sci. 10 (8): 895–908. doi:10.7150/ijbs.9454. PMC 4147223. PMID 25170303.
Engel, Michael S.; Grimaldi, David A. (2007). "The neuropterid fauna of Dominican and Mexican amber (Neuropterida, Megaloptera, Neuroptera)" (PDF). American Museum Novitates (3587): 1–58.
Myskowiak, J.; Huang, D.; Azar, D.; Cai, C.; Garrouste, R.; Nel, A. (2016). "New lacewings (Insecta, Neuroptera, Osmylidae, Nymphidae) from the Lower Cretaceous Burmese amber and Crato Formation in Brazil". Cretaceous Research. 59: 214–227. doi:10.1016/j.cretres.2015.10.029.
Yang, Q.; Wang, Y.; Labandeira, C.C.; Shih, C.; Ren, D. (2014). "Mesozoic lacewings from China provide phylogenetic insight into evolution of the Kalligrammatidae (Neuroptera)". BMC Evolutionary Biology. 14: 126. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-14-126. PMC 4113026. PMID 24912379.
Bechly, G.; Makarkin, V. N. (2016). "A new gigantic lacewing species (Insecta: Neuroptera) from the Lower Cretaceous of Brazil confirms the occurrence of Kalligrammatidae in the Americas". Cretaceous Research. 58: 135–140. doi:10.1016/j.cretres.2015.10.014.
Archibald, S.B.; Makarkin V.N. (2006). "Tertiary giant lacewings (Neuroptera: Polystechotidae): Revision and description of new taxa from Western North America and Denmark". Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. 4 (2): 119–155. doi:10.1017/S1477201906001817. S2CID 55970660. Retrieved January 27, 2010.
Yue, Bi-Song; Song, Nan; Lin, Aili; Zhao, Xincheng (2018). "Insight into higher-level phylogeny of Neuropterida: Evidence from secondary structures of mitochondrial rRNA genes and mitogenomic data". PLOS ONE. 13 (1): e0191826. Bibcode:2018PLoSO..1391826S. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0191826. ISSN 1932-6203. PMC 5790268. PMID 29381758.
Grimaldi, D. A. & Engel, M. S., 2005: Evolution of the Insects. Cambridge University Press, 2005, pages xv-755
Engel, M. S. & Grimaldi, D. A., 2007: The neuropterid fauna of Dominican and Mexican amber (Neuropterida: Megaloptera, Neuroptera). American Museum Novitates: #3587, pages 1-58
Parker, S. P. (ed.), 1982: Synopsis and classification of living organisms. Vols. 1 & 2. McGrew-Hill Book Company
Jones, J.R. (2019) Total‐evidence phylogeny of the owlflies (Neuroptera, Ascalaphidae) supports a new higher‐level classification. Zoologica Scripta: 06 October 2019
Engel, M. S.; Grimaldi, D. A. (2008). "Diverse Neuropterida in Cretaceous amber, with particular reference to the paleofauna of Myanmar (Insecta)". Nova Supplementa Entomologica. 20: 1–86.
Xu, X. X. (2014). "Electrophysiological and Behavior Responses of Chrysopa phyllochroma (Neuroptera Chrysopidae) to Plant Volatiles". Environmental Entomology. 44 (5): 1425–1433. doi:10.1093/ee/nvv106. ISSN 0046-225X. PMID 26314008. S2CID 46558266.
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MacClancy, Jeremy (2007). Consuming the Inedible: Neglected Dimensions of Food Choice. Berghahn.

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