Giants Among Lacewings Prowl the Palouse
MOSCOW, Idaho – Peter Duelli, a retired professor and biodiversity specialist at the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL in Zurich, welcomed the rare appearance of a pair of giant lacewings during his visit this week to the University of Idaho College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Tuesday.
After a lifetime spent studying lacewings in the laboratory and around the world, he'd never seen a live specimen.
Duelli visited the Moscow campus as the guest of James "Ding" Johnson, Department of Plant, Soils and Entomological Sciences Department head. The two returned to Moscow after a two-week trip to southern California and the Southwest to collect other lacewings.
Duelli, Johnson and Frank Merickel, collection manager of William F. Barr Entomological Museum and its 1 million specimens on the Idaho campus, gathered to share notes on the rare insects, once found from New England to Puget Sound and southward along the West Coast.
The giant lacewing is an enigma, even to professional entomologists who have spent careers studying the order Neuroptera, which includes some 5000 species of lacewings. Rare now, the giant lacewing once clouded around the bright lights of a factory at night so thickly that passersby reported smoke was pouring from the building.