A brand new species of lacewing has been discovered in Malaysia but were it not for photo sharing website Flickr the species could have remained unknown and undescribed. The insect was photographed in the rain-forest of Selangor in Malaysia and then released. The images were posted online and discovered by research scientists.
The new green lacewing with its highly decorated wing panel has been named Neuroptera: Chrysopidae: Semachrysa jade sp. n. Despite it being recognised as a new species from the images researchers still spent a year looking for another live sample in order to confirm the new species and to preserve the sample as a reference point.
The new species has been described in the open online journal ZooKeys.
The lacewing was originally caught and photographed by citizen scientist Hock Ping Guek and then released. Guek then posted the images to Flickr and various wildlife and natural history groups on the site was asked to comment. During a close examination of the images a professional taxonomist Shaun L. Winterton – lead author of the paper – concluded that the lacewing was new to science but formal classification was not possible from the images.
A year later and following another search for the insect Guek was able to provide Winterton with another sample of the insect and a formal placement in a classification was possible.