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Haug, Joachim T.; Linhart, Simon; Haug, Gideon T.; Gröhn, Carsten; Hoffeins, Christel; Hoffeins, Hans-Werner; Müller, Patrick; Weiterschan, Thomas; Wunderlich, Jörg and Haug, Carolin (30. March 2022): The Diversity of Aphidlion-like Larvae over the Last 130 Million Years. In: Insects, Vol. 13, No. 4 [PDF, 18MB]


Aphidlions are larvae of certain lacewings (Neuroptera), and more precisely larvae of the groups Chrysopidae, green lacewings, and Hemerobiidae, brown lacewings. The name ‘aphidlion’ originates from their ecological function as specialised predators of aphids. Accordingly, they also play an economic role as biological pest control. Aphidlions have, mostly, elongated spindle-shaped bodies, and similarly to most lacewing larvae they are equipped with a pair of venom-injecting stylets. Fossils interpreted as aphidlions are known to be preserved in amber from the Cretaceous (130 and 100 million years ago), the Eocene (about 35 million years ago) and the Miocene (about 15 million years ago) ages. In this study, new aphidlion-like larvae are reported from Cretaceous amber from Myanmar (about 100 million years old) and Eocene Baltic amber. The shapes of head and stylets were compared between the different time slices. With the newly described fossils and specimens from the literature, a total of 361 specimens could be included in the analysis: 70 specimens from the Cretaceous, 5 from the Eocene, 3 from the Miocene, 188 extant larvae of Chrysopidae, and 95 extant larvae of Hemerobiidae. The results indicate that the diversity of head shapes remains largely unchanged over time, yet there is a certain increase in the diversity of head shapes in the larvae of Hemerobiidae. In certain other groups of Neuroptera, a distinct decrease in the diversity of head shapes in larval stages was observed.

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