Aquatic Insects of Michigan

by Ethan Bright, Museum of Zoology Insect Division and School of Natural Resources and Environment
University of Michigan

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Aquatic Neuroptera (Sisyridae - Spongillaflies) of Michigan


Although Neuroptera is a sizable insect order of about 5000 species, only two families - Nevrorthidae (considered a "basal" family of Neuroptera (Aspöck et al. 2001)) and Sisyridae - have become adapted to an aquatic life phase. Only Sisyridae is found in the Nearctic, and in our area. There are 3 species in 2 genera recorded in Michigan.

Adults lay eggs on vegetation overlying an aquatic body containing freshwater sponges, upon which spongillafly larvae feed by using long stylet mouthparts to pierce and suck out contents. Like Megaloptera, larvae crawl out of the waterbody to create a pupal chamber, and after about 1-2 weeks the adult uses special mouthparts to emerge. Adults usually live about several weeks. More information on biology and ecology: Identification of Michigan Sisyridae.

    Sisyridae - Spongillaflies

      Climacia MacLachlan 1869
        Climacia areolaris (Hagen, 1861) Micromus (orig.) - Parfin and Gurney 1956; Bowles 2006: 5-8
          (syn.) Climacia dictyona Needham, 1901
          (syn.) Sisyra lampra Navás, 1914
      Sisyra Burmeister 1839
        Sisyra nigra (Retzius) Hemerobius (orig.) - UMMZ; Bowles 2006: 15-16
          (syn.) Hemerobius fuscata Fabricius, 1793
          (syn.) Sisyra fuscata (Fabricius, 1793)
          (syn.) Hemerobius nitidulus Stephens (not Fabricius), 1836
          (syn.) Hemerobius confinis Stephens, 1836
          (syn.) Sisyra morio Burmeister, 1839
          (syn.) Sisyra nigripennis Wesmael, 1841
          (syn.) Brachiotoma spongillae Westwood, 1842
          (syn.) Hemerobius fumatus Motschulsky, 1853
        Sisyra vicaria (Walker, 1853) Hemerobius (orig.) - UMMZ; Parfin and Gurney 1956; Bowles 2006:15-16
          (syn.) Sisyra umbrata Needham, 1901


    Aspöck U, Plant JD, Nemeschkal HL. 2001. Cladistic analysis of Neuroptera and their systematic position within Neuropterida (Insecta: Holometabola: Neuropterida: Neuroptera). Systematic Entomology 26: 73-86.
    Bowles DE. 2006. Spongillaflies (Neuroptera: Sisyridae) of North America with a key to the larvae and adults. Zootaxa 1357: 1-19.
    Parfin SI, Gurney AB. 1956. The spongilla-flies, with special reference to those of the Western Hemisphere (Sisyridae, Neuroptera). Proceedings of the United States National Museum 105:421-529.
    Peckarsky BL, Fraissient PR, Penton MA, Conklin DJ. 1990. Freshwater macroinvertebrates of Northeastern North America. Comstock Publishing Associates, Cornell University Press: Ithaca, New York.
Page edits:
    November 06, 2012
    • Beginning to keep track of changes to the web site pages
    • Removed individual pages for families into one long list, with greatly streamlined html coding. Families accessed from left menu via anchor redirects within page
Page created: November 01, 2002; Last updated: November 05, 2013 (EB)