Aquatic lacewings?

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Entomology' started by Richard Olmstead, Nov 17, 2013.

  1. I was fishing the lower St. Joe near St. Maries, ID, last week. The only consistent hatch was of small midges, and the fish weren't too particular as long as you were close in size.

    However, about mid-afternoon, there appeared a "hatch" of a larger insect fluttering over the water and drifting on the surface. These were an olive green and about 1 cm long, with wings longer than the body.

    I scooped up a couple to see what they were, but was befuddled. They looked a lot like lacewings, which I thought were completely terrestrial, yet these were behaving like an emerging aquatic, right out in the middle of a broad relatively smooth stretch of river.

    I didn't have a camera with me, but discovered that one had stowed away on some gear and started flying around my kitchen when I was unpacking after returning home. So, I was able to take a few pics of this guy. He looks a little beat up from my crude attempts to capture and constrain him while I got my camera to take a few pics, none of which came out great.

    This guy is a brighter green than the bugs were that I caught on the water, which makes me think that they were newly emerged and had not achieved their fully adult color.

    Is this a lacewing? Are there any aquatic lacewings? If it isn't a lacewing, what is it?


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  2. Taxon

    Taxon Moderator Staff Member

    Hi Richard-

    Yes, I share your belief that this is a lacewing. I also share (or shared) your belief that they were all terrestrial.
  3. Searching a bit further, I find that there is one family of Neuroptera that are aquatic, the Sysiridae, or spongilla flies. They look a bit like a lacewing, but the only photos I've seen show them to be brown in color when mature.

    Their larvae feed on freshwater sponges. Fresh water sponges live in clean, but slow moving, rivers and lakes, which would describe the lower St. Joe, just above the high water mark of Lake Coer d'Alene. I don't think I've ever seen a freshwater sponge, but apparently they are more common that people think.

  4. Joe Goodfellow

    Joe Goodfellow Active Member

    That's a cool bug whatever it is
  5. Irafly

    Irafly Active Member

    Richard, how bad did is smell? Lacewings are truly stinky creatures.
  6. Sorry, I have nothing to report in this regard, although I handled it a bit and don't recall any smell. I'll keep it in mind if I see them again.

  7. Teenage Entomologist

    Teenage Entomologist Gotta love the pteronarcys.

    One of these days I'll tie a lacewing pattern.
  8. Irafly

    Irafly Active Member

    If you do it will likely only hook a fish that has never tasted one before!
  9. Teenage Entomologist

    Teenage Entomologist Gotta love the pteronarcys.

    Well, there is the insect known as an Ant-Lion, and I've seen them before, the adults are like 2 inches long! But the larvae live in the sand. Look them up they're really cool, and scary looking. Trout would only have a chance at the adult.

    The larvae


    the adult

    triploidjunkie likes this.
  10. FinLuver

    FinLuver Active Member

    Wasn't the Ant-lion the bug in the Star Trek movie with Khan (Ricardo Montalban)??
  11. Teenage Entomologist

    Teenage Entomologist Gotta love the pteronarcys.

    I don't know Star Trek
  12. triploidjunkie

    triploidjunkie Active Member

    I love antlions. I used to keep several in a jar when I was a kid. I still love throwing an ant into one of their pits and observing the carnage. Had no idea that they matured into flies.
  13. Teenage Entomologist

    Teenage Entomologist Gotta love the pteronarcys.

    Me too! when you throw the ant into that funnel o' death and see those jaws come up for a split second, nothing better than that. Never managed to catch the larvae though
  14. triploidjunkie

    triploidjunkie Active Member

    There's a trick to it. The only way I found to catch them without smashing or otherwise hurting them is to use a blade of grass to imitate an ant having fallen in the trap. Once you see little dirt spurts and you know it's near the surface,blow all the sand or dirt away(use glasses). It will leave the pupae exposed.