Osmylidae are a small family of winged insects of the net-winged insect order Neuroptera. The osmylids, also called lance lacewings, stream lacewings[1] or giant lacewings[note 1],[2] are found all over the world. There are around 225 extant species.[3]

Temporal range: Early Jurassic–Recent
Porismus strigatus 2.jpg
Porismus strigatus,
Black Mountain, Canberra (Australia)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Neuroptera
Superfamily: Osmyloidea
Family: Osmylidae
Linnaeus, 1758

See text

Description and ecologyEdit

Adult osmylids are small to moderately-sized net-winged insects, with wingspans ranging from 1.4 to 3 cm. Smaller members resemble typical green lacewings, and larger species resemble antlions. Many species, namely those of the type genus Osmylus, have spotted wings. The thin antennae are short. They have two compound eyes, as well as three ocelli in between. Adult osmylids, like green lacewings (some of which are colloquially known as "stinkflies"), have prothoracal glands which produce foul-smelling compounds used to deter would-be predators.

Their larvae are superficially similar to those of spongillaflies (Sisyridae). They have peculiar mouthparts which look like a thin forceps with the ends bending outwards. The body is elongated and slender and terminates in two extensible graspers bearing tiny hooks; these are used to aid in locomotion and to grasp prey. The larvae are associated with damp, mossy habitats and are amphibious. They hunt small invertebrate prey, from which they suck the body fluids with their mouthparts.

The adults are diurnal or crepuscular weak-flying insects which mostly prey on small invertebrates, supplemented with some pollen. Eggs are deposited in damp places, usually near freshwater.

Systematics and taxonomyEdit

Osmylids are generally placed with the extant families Sisyridae (spongillaflies) and Nevrorthidae within the clade Osmyloidea, which is the second earliest diverging clade of Neuroptera after Coniopterygidae (dustywings). The group also contains Archeosmylidae from the Permian-Triassic and Saucrosmylidae from the Middle Jurassic, both of which are thought to be closely related to Osmylidae. The earliest records of Osmylidae date to the Early Jurassic, some of which are already assignable to extant subfamilies, and were diverse during the Jurassic and Cretaceous. At least 278 species have been described in 25 extant and 38 extinct genera.[4]

Taxonomy largely after Winterton et al., 2019[4]

Subfamilies and generaEdit


  1. ^ Not to be confused with Ithonidae


  1. ^ Güsten, Robert (2003). "A checklist and new species records of Neuropterida (Insects) for Tunisia" (PDF). Kaupia: Darmstädter Beiträge zur Naturgeschichte. 12: 129–149. Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  2. ^ "Osmylidae". Fauna Europaea. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
  3. ^ Engel, Michael S.; Winterton, Shaun L.; Breitkreuz, Laura C. V. (2018-01-07). "Phylogeny and Evolution of Neuropterida: Where Have Wings of Lace Taken Us?". Annual Review of Entomology. 63: 531–551. doi:10.1146/annurev-ento-020117-043127. ISSN 1545-4487. PMID 29324039.
  4. ^ a b WINTERTON, SHAUN L.; MARTINS, CALEB CALIFRE; MAKARKIN, VLADIMIR; ARDILA-CAMACHO, ADRIAN; WANG, YONGJIE (2019-04-09). "Lance lacewings of the world (Neuroptera: Archeosmylidae, Osmylidae, Saucrosmylidae): review of living and fossil genera". Zootaxa. 4581 (1): 1. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.4581.1.1. ISSN 1175-5334.
  5. ^ Ma, Yiming; Shih, Chungkun; Ren, Dong; Wang, Yongjie (2020-08-04). "New lance lacewings (Osmylidae: Kempyninae) from the Middle Jurassic of Inner Mongolia, China". Zootaxa. 4822 (1): 94–100. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.4822.1.4. ISSN 1175-5334.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Osmylidae at Wikimedia Commons