Aquatic Insects of Michigan

by Ethan Bright, Museum of Zoology Insect Division and School of Natural Resources and Environment
University of Michigan

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Aquatic Neuroptera (Sisyridae - Spongillaflies) of Michigan


Although Neuroptera is a sizable insect order of about 5000 species, only two families - Nevrorthidae (considered a "basal" family of Neuroptera (Aspöck et al. 2001)) and Sisyridae - have become adapted to an aquatic life phase. Only Sisyridae is found in the Nearctic, and in our area. There are 3 species in 2 genera recorded in Michigan.

Adults lay eggs on vegetation overlying an aquatic body containing freshwater sponges, upon which spongillafly larvae feed by using long stylet mouthparts to pierce and suck out contents. Like Megaloptera, larvae crawl out of the waterbody to create a pupal chamber, and after about 1-2 weeks the adult uses special mouthparts to emerge. Adults usually live about several weeks. More information on biology and ecology: Identification of Michigan Sisyridae.

    Sisyridae - Spongillaflies

      Climacia McLachlan, 1869: 21
        Climacia areolaris (Hagen, 1861: 199 as Micromus) - Parfin and Gurney 1956: 489; Bowles 2006: 5-8
          (syn.) Climacia dictyona Needham, 1901: 558
          (syn.) Sisyra lampra Navás, 1914: 60
      Sisyra Burmeister, 1839: 975
        Sisyra nigra (Retzius, 1783) Hemerobius (orig.) - UMMZ; Parfin and Gurney 1956: 424 (as S. fuscata); Bowles 2006: 15-16
          (syn.) Hemerobius fuscata Fabricius, 1793: 84
          (comb. syn.) Sisyra fuscata Burmeister 1839: 976
          (syn.) Hemerobius nitidulus Stephens (not Fabricius), 1836: 114
          (syn.) Hemerobius confinis Stephens, 1836: 115
          (syn.) Sisyra morio Burmeister, 1839: 976
          (syn.) Sisyra nigripennis Wesmael, 1841: 213
          (syn.) Brachiotoma spongillae Westwood, 1842: 105
          (syn.) Hemerobius fumatus Motschulsky, 1853 : 20
        Sisyra vicaria (Walker, 1853: 297 as Hemerobius) - UMMZ; Parfin and Gurney 1956: 465; Bowles 2006: 15-16
          (syn.) Sisyra umbrata Needham, 1901: 555

References - Distribution

    Aspöck U, Plant JD, Nemeschkal HL. 2001. Cladistic analysis of Neuroptera and their systematic position within Neuropterida (Insecta: Holometabola: Neuropterida: Neuroptera). Systematic Entomology 26: 73-86.
    Bowles DE. 2006. Spongillaflies (Neuroptera: Sisyridae) of North America with a key to the larvae and adults. Zootaxa 1357: 1-19.
    Parfin SI, Gurney AB. 1956. The spongilla-flies, with special reference to those of the Western Hemisphere (Sisyridae, Neuroptera). Proceedings of the United States National Museum 105:421-529.
    Peckarsky BL, Fraissient PR, Penton MA, Conklin DJ. 1990. Freshwater macroinvertebrates of Northeastern North America. Comstock Publishing Associates, Cornell University Press: Ithaca, New York.

References - Taxonomic

    Burmeister HCC. 1839. Handbuch der Entomologie, Vol. 2. pp. 757-1050.
    Fabricius JC. 1793. Entomologia systematica emendata et auets, Vol. 2, vii + 519 pp.
    Hagen H. 1861. Synopsis of the Neuroptera of North America. With a list of the South American species. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collection 4, art. 1. 347 pp.
    McLachlan R. 1869. New species...of Hemerobiina; with synonymic notes (first series). Entomological Monthly Magazine 6: 21-27.
    Motschulsky V, de. 1853. Études entomologiques, pt. 1. 80 pp.
    Navás L. 1914. Some Neuroptera from the United States. Bulletin of the Brooklyn Entomological Society 9: 60-62.
    Needham JG. 1901. In Needham JG, Betten C. 1901. Aquatic insects in the Adirondacks. New York State Museum Bulletin 47: 551-560.
    Retzius AI. 1783. Genera et species insectorum / e generosissimi auctoris scriptis extraxit, digessit, Latine quoad partem reddidit, et terminologiam insectorum Linneanam addidit. Siegfried Lebrecht Crvsivm, Lipsiae [=Leipzig]. 220 pp.
    Stephens JF. 1836. Illustrations of British entomology, Mandibulaia, Vol. 6. 240 pp, pls. 28-34.
    Walker F. 1853. List of specimens of neuropterous insects in the collection of the British Museum, Pt. 2. 476 pp.
    Wesmael M. 1841. Notice sur les Hémérobides de Belgique. Bulletin de l'Académie royale des Sciences de Belgique 8: 203-221, 1 pl.
    Westwood JO. 1842. Description of some insects which inhabit the tissues of Spongilla fluviatilis. Transactions of the Entomological Society of London (1842), Vol. 3, pp. 105-108, pl. 8.

Page edits:
    March 11, 2017
    • Reorganized reference sections, splitting them into references pertaining to sources documenting the occurence of a species in Michigan, and another for works that reference authorship of species cited.
    November 06, 2012
    • Beginning to keep track of changes to the web site pages
    • Removed individual pages for families into one long list, with greatly streamlined html coding. Families accessed from left menu via anchor redirects within page
Page created: November 01, 2002; Last updated: June 23, 2017 (EB)