The Neuropterida[1] are a clade, sometimes placed at superorder level, of holometabolous insects with over 5,700 described species, containing the orders Neuroptera (lacewings, antlions), Megaloptera (alderflies, dobsonflies), and Raphidioptera (snakeflies).

Historically, they were known as Neuroptera, but this name nowadays refers to lacewings and their relatives (e.g. antlions) only, which formerly were known as Planipennia. Part of the Endopterygota and related to beetles, they can be considered an unranked taxon. Arguably, the Endopterygota might be considered an unranked clade instead, and be split up in numerous superorders to signify the close relationships of certain endopterygote groups.[2]

The Mecoptera (scorpionflies) were formerly included here too by some authors, but they actually belong to the Mecopteroidea (or Antliophora), the endopterygote clade containing also true flies and fleas.

Neuropterida are fairly primitive-looking insects, with large wings but weak wing muscles, giving them a clumsy flight. Most are active at dusk or in the night as adults, and the larvae of many are aquatic, living in rivers. At least the larvae, but in many cases the adults too, are predators of small arthropods. Adult neuropteridans range in size from that of a midge to that of a large dragonfly (15 cm wingspan); the largest species tend to resemble drab, clumsily flying damselflies.

In addition to the three living orders, there is an entirely extinct family of Neuropterida, the monotypic Rafaelidae. These are of an indeterminate but probably rather basal position; thus the single genus Rafaelia from the Early Cretaceous Santana Formation's Crato Member in Brazil might for the time being be better placed in the Neuropterida directly, without assigning it to an order, until relatives are found and/or its systematic position gets resolved better.[2] The extinct order Glosselytrodea may also be a member or close relative, though classification is unclear.[3]

Florfliege Alderfly Sialis lutaria
Sialis lutaria (Megaloptera: Sialidae)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
(unranked): Endopterygota
(unranked): Neuropterida

Neuroptera sensu Palker, 1982


  1. ^ "ITIS & Species 2000 Catalogue of Life Management Hierarchy". Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS). 2017. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b Haaramo, Mikko (2008): Mikko's Phylogeny Archive: Neuropterida. Version of 11 March 2008. Retrieved 5 May 2008.
  3. ^ Grimaldi, David; Engel, Michael S. (2005). Evolution of the Insects. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-107-26877-7.

Chrysopoidea is a lacewing superfamily in the suborder Hemerobiiformia.


Coniopterygoidea is a lacewing superfamily in the suborder Hemerobiiformia. In some classifications, Coniopterygoidea is an expansion used to signify that the spongillaflies (Sisyridae) and the dustywings (Coniopterygidae) are each other's closest relatives.


The Dicondylia are a taxonomic group (taxon) that includes all insects except the jumping bristletails (Archaeognatha). Dicondylia have a mandible attached with two hinges to the head capsule (dicondyl), in contrast to the original mandible with a single ball joint (monocondyl).


Endopterygota (from Ancient Greek endon “inner” + pterón, “wing” + New Latin -ota “having”), also known as Holometabola, is a superorder of insects within the infraclass Neoptera that go through distinctive larval, pupal, and adult stages. They undergo a radical metamorphosis, with the larval and adult stages differing considerably in their structure and behaviour. This is called holometabolism, or complete metamorphism.

The Endopterygota are among the most diverse insect superorders, with over 1 million living species divided between 11 orders, containing insects such as butterflies, flies, fleas, bees, ants, and beetles.They are distinguished from the Exopterygota (or Hemipterodea) by the way in which their wings develop. Endopterygota (meaning literally "internal winged forms") develop wings inside the body and undergo an elaborate metamorphosis involving a pupal stage. Exopterygota ("external winged forms") develop wings on the outside their bodies and do not go through a pupal stage. The latter trait is plesiomorphic, however, and not exclusively found in the exopterygotes, but also in groups such as Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies), which are not Neoptera, but more basal among insects.

The earliest endopterygote fossils date from the Carboniferous.


Eumetabola is an unranked category of Neoptera. Two large unities known as the Paurometabola and Eumetabola are probably from the adelphotaxa of the Neoptera after exclusion of the Plecoptera. The monophyly of these unities appears to be weakly justified.


Glosselytrodea is an extinct order of insects, containing about thirty species. Its fossil record dates from the Permian to the Upper Jurassic, and is distributed across Eurasia, the Americas, and Australia. Its classification is uncertain, but may be closely related to Neuropterida or Orthoptera.An ongoing argument about whether this species falls under the Neuropterida or Orthopetra classification has been going on for decades, but scientists refer to its classification through specifies such as wing structure and genetic organization. The Glosselytrodea order resonates to the Neuropterida species through the constructional shape of its wings whilst it is related to the Orthptera species through the organization of its veins.

Hans Bischoff

Hans Bischoff (30 November 1889 – 18 March 1960) was a German entomologist from Berlin.

He was Kustos or curator of Hymenoptera (and Neuropterida) at Museum für Naturkunde (Berlin) from 1921 until 1955.

He ventured to Italy to obtain ants in order to return them to Germany's museum.


"Hemerobioidea" redirects here. Numerous lacewing families were formerly included there but now are placed elsewhere; see text for details.

Hemerobiidae is a family of Neuropteran insects commonly known as brown lacewings, comprising about 500 species in 28 genera. Most are yellow to dark brown, but some species are green. They are small; most have forewings 4–10 mm long (some up to 18 mm). These insects differ from the somewhat similar Chrysopidae (green lacewings) not only by the usual coloring but also by the wing venation: hemerobiids differ from chrysopids in having numerous long veins (two or more radial sectors) and forked costal cross veins. Some genera (Hemerobius, Micromus, Notiobiella, Sympherobius, Wesmaelius) are widespread, but most are restricted to a single biogeographical realm. Some species have reduced wings to the degree that they are flightless. Imagines (adults) of subfamily Drepanepteryginae mimic dead leaves. Hemerobiid larvae are usually less hairy than chrysopid larvae.

Hemerobiids, like chrysopids, are predatory, especially on aphids, both as larvae and adults. The species Micromus tasmaniae is bred for biological pest control.


The Mantispoidea are a superfamily of lacewing insects in the suborder Hemerobiiformia. It has two families.


Megaloptera is an order of insects. It contains the alderflies, dobsonflies and fishflies, and there are about 300 known species.

The order's name comes from Ancient Greek, from mega- (μέγα-) "large" + pteryx (πτέρυξ) "wing", in reference to the large, clumsy wings of these insects. Megaloptera are relatively unknown insects across much of their range, due to the adults' short lives, the aquatic larvae's often-high tolerance of pollution (so they are not often encountered by swimmers etc.), and the generally crepuscular or nocturnal habits. However, in the Americas the dobsonflies are rather well-known, as their males have tusk-like mandibles. These, while formidable in appearance, are relatively harmless to humans and other animals; much like a peacock's feathers, they serve mainly to impress females. However, the mandibles are also used to hold females during mating, and some male dobsonflies spar with each other in courtship displays, trying to flip each other over with their long mandibles. Dobsonfly larvae, commonly called hellgrammites, are often used for angling bait in North America.

The Megaloptera were formerly considered part of a group then called Neuroptera, together with lacewings and snakeflies, but these are now generally considered to be separate orders, with Neuroptera referring to the lacewings and relatives (which were formerly called Planipennia). The former Neuroptera, particularly the lacewing group, are nonetheless very closely related to each other, and the new name for this group is Neuropterida. This is either placed at superorder rank, with the Endopterygota—of which they are part—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 Asian dobsonfly Acanthacorydalis fruhstorferi can have a wingspan of up to 21.6 cm (8.5 in), making it the largest aquatic insect in the world by this measurement.


Neoptera is a classification group that includes most orders of the winged insects, specifically those that can flex their wings over their abdomens. This is in contrast with the more basal orders of winged insects (the "Palaeoptera" assemblage), which are unable to flex their wings in this way.


The insect order Neuroptera, or net-winged insects, includes the lacewings, mantidflies, antlions, and their relatives. The order consists of some 6,000 species. 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. 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.


The Nevrorthidae, often incorrectly spelled "Neurorthidae", are a small family of winged insects of the order Neuroptera. Extant species may be described as living fossils.

They were at one time placed in the Osmyloidea, with the Osmylidae and the spongillaflies (Sisyridae) as their closest relatives, but nowadays they are considered to be the most ancient lineage of living lacewings. Sometimes they are placed in a suborder Nevrorthiformia, but the quite basal position of the family is probably better expressed by placing them directly in the Neuroptera, without assigning the subordinal rank.Apart from the mere three living genera, the fossil Rophalis from the Eocene and Cretarophalis from the Cretaceous (Albian–Cenomanian) have been described.


Panorpida or Mecopterida is a proposed superorder of Endopterygota. The conjectured monophyly of the Panorpida is historically based on morphological evidence, namely the reduction or loss of the ovipositor and several internal characteristics, including a muscle connecting a pleuron and the first axillary sclerite at the base of the wing, various features of the larval maxilla and labium, and basal fusion of CuP and A1 veins in the hind wings. The monophyly of the Panorpida is also supported by recent molecular data.


Protodiptera is an extinct order of insects containing the two genera Permotipula and Permila.

Protosialis casca

Protosialis casca is an extinct species of alderfly in the Sialidae subfamily Sialinae. The species is solely known from the early Miocene, Burdigalian stage, Dominican amber deposits on the island of Hispaniola. Protosialis casca is one of only two known alderfly species present in the West Indies, the only other species is the living Protosialis bifasciata native to Cuba.


Psychopsidae is a family of winged insects of the order Neuroptera. They are commonly called silky lacewings.

The silky lacewings are distinguishable in their adult stage by their spectacularly patterned and pubescent wings, broad wing shape, dense venation, and the presence of a vena triplica (the apical fusion of three veins in the hindwing).


Snakeflies are a group of insects comprising the order Raphidioptera, which is divided into two families: Raphidiidae and Inocelliidae consisting of roughly 260 species. Together with the Megaloptera they were formerly placed within the Neuroptera, but now these two are generally regarded as separate orders. Members of this order have been considered living fossils, as the phenotype of a species from the early Jurassic period (140 million years ago) closely resembles modern-day species.

Insect orders


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