Net-winged insects are the lacewings and their relatives, the antlions, alderflies and snakeflies. They form a large and diverse order of insects that have large membranous wings. The adults have two pairs of similar sized wings that contain extensive branching of the wing veins. Lacewing larvae are effective predators of crop pests and can be used as a biological control.
Scientific name: Neuroptera
A lacewing secures her eggs out of reach of predatory ants.
The lacewing makes a silk thread to hang her eggs on. This ensures that predatory ants can't reach them.
Learn more about the other animals and plants that also form these fossils.
The insect order Neuroptera, or net-winged insects, includes the lacewings, mantidflies, antlions, and their relatives. The order contains about 6,000 species. The group was once known as Planipennia, and at that time also included alderflies, fishflies, dobsonflies and snakeflies, but these are now generally considered to be separate orders (the Megaloptera and Raphidioptera). Sometimes the name Neuropterida[Note 1] is used to refer to these three orders as a group. This is either placed at superorder rank, with the Endopterygota becoming an unranked clade above it, or the Endopterygota are maintained as a superorder, with an unranked Neuropterida being a part of them. Within the endopterygotes, the closest living relatives of the neuropteridan clade are the beetles. The common name lacewings is often used for the most widely known net-winged insects – the green lacewings (Chrysopidae) – but actually most members of the Neuroptera are referred to as some sort of "lacewing".
The adults of this order possess four membranous wings, with the forewings and hindwings about the same size, and 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. During this time several unusually large forms evolved, especially in the extinct family Kalligrammatidae, often referred to as "the butterflies of the Jurassic" due to their large, patterned wings.
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