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(also Planipennia), an order of predatory insects having complete metamorphosis. The body length is 2–20 mm, and the wingspread reaches 120 mm. The mouthparts are formed for chewing. There are two pairs of almost identical transparent and reticulate wings. In larvae the mouthparts are formed for piercing and sucking: the sickle-shaped mandibles have a furrow, and the maxillae serve to pierce the prey and suck its blood. Digestion is external.
There are about 4,500 species, distributed principally in the tropics. Insemination with spermatophores is characteristic. Neuropterans develop in soil (families Dilaridae and Itonidae); on plants (Hemorobiidae and Chrysopidae); in colonies of ticks, coccids, and whiteflies (Coniopterygidae); in water near the shore (Osmylidae); or in the cavities of freshwater sponges (Sisyridae). The larvae of neuropterans with prehensile legs (Mantispidae) develop in the egg cocoons of spiders. Tropical species of the family Nemopteridae have greatly elongated hind wings; the larvae have a very long mesothorax. Large species of the family Ascalaphidae are found principally in the tropics (in the USSR, only in the south). They catch their prey in flight, and the larvae live on the soil surface. The larvae of Myrme-leontidae dig funnels in the sand, where they lie in wait for prey. Neuropterans are known from the Permian. Many species are beneficial, because they destroy orchard and forest pests.
REFERENCESZhizn’ zhivotnykh, vol. 3. Moscow, 1969.
Traité de zoologie, vol. 10, fasc. 1. Edited by P.-P. Grasse. Paris, 1951.
M. S. GILIAROV