Sympherobius elegans, copyright Graham Calow.

Belongs within: Neoneuroptera.
Contains: Psectra, Micromus, Hemerobius.

The Hemerobiidae, brown lacewings, are generally smaller lacewings that are mostly generalist predators. They are typically found on trees and shrubs (more rarely on low vegetation) and are often very cryptic, dropping and feigning death when disturbed (New 1991).

Characters (from Tjeder 1961): Adults small to medium-sized, with a forewing length of 3.5–16 mm; larvae usually arboreal. Imago with head small or medium-sized, short or elongate with prominent compound eyes. Ocelli absent. Antennae slender, multi-segmented, moniliform, length varying from less than half to slightly more than full length of forewing. Scape enlarged, pedicel elongate. Galea with basigalea; apical knob lacking. Palpi long. Maxillary palpi five- or six-segmented; labial palpi three- or four-segmented. Palpimacula present or lacking. Mandibles well developed, acutely pointed, somewhat asymmetrical, always with internal tooth. Pronotum short, usually much broader than long. Lateral margins usually prolonged into a lobe. Mesonotum broad and large with large scutellum. Metanotum shorter than mesonotum, with small scutellum. Legs cursorial with well developed coxae; coxae of forelegs long and slender. Tibiae usually with short spurs. Tarsi of medium length, five-segmented; terminal segment with pair of sharp curved claws and broad pad-like empodium. Wings of varying shape, generally oval or elongate, subequal (exceptions common). Wing membrane usually delicate and smooth, occasionally much thickened or coriaceous. Trichosors present along margins. Wing-membrane covered by microtrichia. Veins and trichosors carrying macrotrichia, sometimes very minute. Pterostigma generally distinct. Venation variable; wings frequently mottled or marked with spots and fasciae; yellow, brown and black colours prevalent. Vein R of forewing with more than one sector. Forewing with jugal lobe at base of anal margin, with shape of a more or less triangular weak lappet. Hindwings with single Rs. Wings not coupled during flight. Abdomen cylindrical or nearly so, generally more slender in male than in female. Eight pairs of spiracles present, on segments 1 to 8. Cercal callus and trichobothria present.
Male with tergites 1–8 usually unmodified, rarely carrying teeth or other dilations. Spiracles of segment 8 usually placed in membrane between tergite and sternite. Tergite 9 generally forming narrow half-ring. Sternite 9 more or less short, scoop-like. Ectoprocts dorsally not fused, usually modified for grasping, ending in one or two prongs, or simple; distally often prolonged; frequently carrying spines or other structures. Gonarcus with shape of transverse arch, sometimes bearing mediuncus, or arcessus, or pair of entoprocessus. Parameres free or fused; superprocessus present or absent. Distinct, stem-like hypandrium internum present.
Female with tergite 8 with sides extending downwards and spiracles opening through these lateral parts. Tergite 9 either forming half-ring or split laterally in to small dorsal plate and pair of lateral plates. Subgenitale present or absent; pair of gonapophyses posteriores occasionally present, membranously strongly fixed to subgenitale. Praegenitale very seldom present. Gonapophyses laterales formed as pair of more or less short, convex scales, usually crescent-shaped in lateral view. Ectoprocts forming a pair of simple convex plates, never dorsally fused, seldom with tooth-like process. Spermatheca usually small and weak, rather simply shaped, sometimes coiled.

Hemerobiidae [Hemerobiinae, Sympherobiidae]
    |--+--+--Megalomus tortricoides VM20
    |  |  `--+--Micromus VM20
    |  |     `--Drepanepteryx [Drepanepteryginae] VM20
    |  |          `--D. phalaenoides VM20
    |  `--+--Hemerobius VM20
    |     `--Wesmaelius Krüger 1922 VM20, T61
    |          |--W. concinnus VM20
    |          `--W. ravus VM20
    `--Sympherobius Banks 1904 VM20, T61 (see below for synonymy)
         |--*S. amiculus (Fitch 1856) [=Hemerobius amiculus] T61
         |--S. amicus Navás 1915 T61
         |--S. barberi T61
         |--S. brincki Tjeder 1961 T61
         |--S. domesticus T61
         |--S. elegans VM20
         |--S. fuscescens T61
         |--S. impar Tjeder 1961 T61
         |--S. nigricornis Tjeder 1961 T61
         |--S. pygmaeus [incl. S. conspersus] T61
         |--S. schmitzi Navás 1908 T61
         `--S. smithersi Nakahara 1960 T61

Hemerobiidae incertae sedis:
  Promegalomus [Promegalomidae] GE05
  Mesohemerobius GE05
  Psychobiella [Psychobiellinae] N91
    `--P. sordida WHW10
  Carobius [Carobinae] N91
  Zachobiella pallida WHW10
  Dyshemerobius Tjeder 1961 T61
    `--*D. productus Tjeder 1961 T61
  Drepanacrinae WHW10
    |--Conchopterella stangei WHW10
    `--Drepanacra T61
         |--D. binocula N91
         `--D. humilis R70
  Notiobiella Banks 1909 (see below for synonymy) T61
    |--*N. unita Banks 1909 T61
    |--N. africanus (Navás 1929) T61
    |--N. bella Navás 1930 T61
    |--N. costalis Banks 1918 T61
    |--N. decora Kimmins 1929 T61
    |--N. hargreavesi Kimmins 1936 T61
    |--N. mombassina Navás 1936 T61
    |--N. nitidula Navás 1910 T61
    |--N. peterseni Banks 1932 T61
    |--N. punctata Tjeder 1961 T61
    |--N. rosea Kimmins 1933 T61
    |--N. turneri Kimmins 1933 T61
    |--N. ugandensis Kimmins 1939 T61
    |--N. vicina Kimmins 1936 T61
    `--N. viridis N91
  Boriomyia Banks 1905 [incl. Kimminsia Killington 1937] T61
    |--*B. disjuncta (Banks 1897) [=Hemerobius disjunctus] T61
    |--B. barnardi Tjeder 1955 T61
    |--B. concinna T61
    |--B. davidica Navás 1910 T61
    |--B. fulva (Navás 1918) T61
    |--B. fumosa Tjeder 1955 T61
    |--B. geyri Esben-Petersen 1920 T61
    |--B. lindbergi Esben-Petersen 1931 T61
    |--B. majuscula Kimmins 1959 T61
    |--B. maorica Tillyard 1923 T61
    |--B. navasi T61
    |--B. nervosa T61
    |--B. nubila Kimmins 1929 [=Kimminsia nubila] T61
    |--B. obscurata Navás 1936 T61
    |--B. praenubila (Fraser 1951) T61
    |--B. sinica Tjed. 1936 T61
    `--B. subnebulosa T61
  Psectra T61
  Prophlebonema P92
  Hemerobites P92
  Prospadobius P92
  Prolachlanius P92
  Megalmus darwini PP72

Notiobiella Banks 1909 [incl. Buxtonia Esben-Petersen 1928 non Thomas 1914, Ganchetus Navás 1929, Vaja Navás 1925; Notiobiellinae] T61

Sympherobius Banks 1904 VM20, T61 [incl. Coloma Navás 1915 T61, Eurobius Krüger 1922 T61, Lachlanius Krüger 1922 T61, Nefasitus Navás 1915 T61, Niremberge T61, Palmobius Needham 1905 T61, Spadobius Needham 1905 T61]

*Type species of generic name indicated


[GE05] Grimaldi, D., & M. S. Engel. 2005. Evolution of the Insects. Cambridge University Press: New York.

[N91] New, T. R. 1991. Neuroptera (lacewings). In: CSIRO. The Insects of Australia: A textbook for students and research workers vol. 1 pp. 525–542. Melbourne University Press: Carlton (Victoria).

[PP72] Parkin, P., D. T. Parkin, A. W. Ewing & H. A. Ford. 1972. A report on the arthropods collected by the Edinburgh University Galapagos Islands expedition, 1968. Pan-Pacific Entomologist 48 (2): 100–107.

[P92] Poinar, G. O., Jr. 1992. Life in Amber. Stanford University Press: Stanford.

[R70] Riek, E. F. 1970. Neuroptera (lacewings). In: CSIRO. The Insects of Australia: A textbook for students and research workers pp. 472–494. Melbourne University Press.

[T61] Tjeder, B. 1961. Neuroptera-Planipennia. The lace-wings of southern Africa. 4. Family Hemerobiidae. In: Hanström, B., P. Brinck & G. Rudebeck (eds) South African Animal Life: Results of the Lund University Expedition in 1950–1951 vol. 8 pp. 296–408. Almqvist & Wiksell: Uppsala.

[VM20] Vasilikopoulos, A., B. Misof, K. Meusemann, D. Lieberz, T. Flouri, R. G. Beutel, O. Niehuis, T. Wappler, J. Rust, R. S. Peters, A. Donath, L. Podsiadlowski, C. Mayer, D. Bartel, A. Böhm, S. Liu, P. Kapli, C. Greve, J. E. Jepson, X. Liu, X. Zhou, H. Aspöck & U. Aspöck. 2020. An integrative phylogenomic approach to elucidate the evolutionary history and divergence times of Neuropterida (Insecta: Holometabola). BMC Evolutionary Biology 20: 64.

[WHW10] Winterton, S. L., N. B. Hardy & B. M. Wiegmann. 2010. On wings of lace: phylogeny and Bayesian divergence time estimates of Neuropterida (Insecta) based on morphological and molecular data. Systematic Entomology 35: 349–378.

Last updated: 3 April 2022.

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