Sunday, 16 December 2012

Nymphid follow-up

The recent blog depicting the green larva of a member of the Neuroptera family Nymphidae elicited a response from my friend Ms Densey Clyne. She pointed out that she recorded this behaviour in her popular book the Garden Jungle.
I have this book on my shelf and should have recalled her mention of this and other neuropterans. If you can find a copy of the book it is well worth reading. Her former garden in Turramurra, NSW, just north of Sydney, provided a wealth of biological observation. Her observant eye was continually at work documenting the comings-and-goings in her suburban garden. Her photos are outstanding and this combination, and her pleasant personality, lead to stints for several years on Burke's Backyard TV show.

Densey has kindly allowed me to use her photos of Osmylops pallidus, photographed in her garden many years ago. It appears to be the same species as depicted in this blog.
Densey Clyne photo
The larva is very similar , if not identical to the one photographed in Kuranda. The jaws are agape but secreted beneath the head.
Densey Clyne photo

This is the pupal case formed after the larval stage was complete. It is on the underside of a leaf.
Densey Clyne photo
The adult Ruby-eyed Lacewing, Osmylops pallidus. It strongly resembles a green lacewing but differs in several respects. 
Green lacewings, like the one above, probably in the genus Italochrysa, have a different body plan. The antennae are much thinner, and the wing venation differs between the two families. And, of course, the larval life styles are very different as is their morphology. in addition, some nymphids lay eggs on stalks in horse-shoe like rings, interconnected to one another. Lacewing eggs are laid in less elaborate fashion. In the case of O. pallidus, Ms Clyne reports that the eggs are in contact with the leaf each on a long stalk. The stalk is bent to form a hoop at its tips with the egg fixed directly to the leaf. The hoops formed in this manner by the stalks lie parallel to each other forming a tunnel or tube inside which are the eggs, parallel to one another and in a symmetrical row protected by the encircling hoops of sticky silk. 

Now to find one of those egg masses.

Thanks to Densey and to Catherine and Maurice Tauber for help in discussing the biology and morphologyof this little-known group of insects.


Piotr Naskrecki said...

What a wonderful creature. I don't think I have ever seen a member of this family of neuropterans. The larva looks somewhat like certain African ascalaphids, but those are not nearly as round.

Dave said...

These are splendid creatures. I found a larva of this species in middle of Sydney on the underside of a fig leaf so that it looked just like Densey's picture. I think she has misidentified it though; it is Norfolius howensis (Nymphidae), not Osmylops which is in a different family of lacewings.