Posted on Leave a comment

Man makes remarkable discovery during routine trip to Walmart – bug find turns out to be super rare Jurassic-era insect.

lacewing main

Michael Skvarla made a remarkable discovery while on a routine trip to Walmart in Fayetteville, Arkansas. As he walked into the store, he spotted a large bug on the side of the building and decided to take it home. Initially, he thought it was an antlion (a group of about 2,000 species of insect in the neuropteran family Myrmeleontidae), but in fall of 2020 while teaching an online course, he realized that the bug he had picked up was actually a super-rare giant lacewing. Skvarla and his students were able to identify it due to its wingspan, which measured about two inches, making it clear that it was not an antlion.


Skvarla’s research on the specimen was published in the Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington. The discovery is a new state record and the first specimen recorded in eastern North America in over 50 years. Giant lacewings were once found across the entire continent, but by the 1950s, the insect had been destroyed in the eastern part of North America. The cause of their disappearance is largely shrouded in mystery, but theories suggest that it may have been due to increasing light pollution, new predators, and potentially even new earthworms introduced into the environment, which changed the soil’s composition.

The molecular analyses conducted on the bug by Skvarla and his team revealed that the location in which it was found may be “an ideal place for a large, showy insect to hide undetected.” This discovery suggests that there may be relictual populations of this large, charismatic insect yet to be discovered.

“It could have been 100 years since it was even in this area — and it’s been years since it’s been spotted anywhere near it. The next closest place that they’ve been found was 1,200 miles away, so very unlikely it would have traveled that far. But a finding like this really highlights that even in a run-of-the-mill situation, there are still a tremendous number of discoveries to make about insects.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *