What Bug Is That? The guide to Australian insect families.

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A small, archaic family (moth lacewings) almost wholly restricted to Australia.


Adults are stout, with broad wings (fore wing length 25-30 mm), and superficially resemble some small hepialid moths. Most species have uniformly greyish brown wings, but those of Varnia are patterned. Venation is complex and nygmata are present. Genitalia of both sexes are distinctive: males have greatly enlarged claspers, and the female ovipositor (used for laying eggs in sandy soil) has been likened to a ploughshare. The large (1.7 mm) eggs are laid singly and hatch in about a month in Ithone fusca. The life cycle of this species lasts two years, and the larva is subterranean. It is pale, blind and scarabaeiform, with short straight jaws, and is unusual in Neuroptera in feeding on partially decayed plant material. Adults often swarm with enormous numbers participating in crepuscular or nocturnal mating flights and concealing themselves in crevices during the day.


Other than the North American Oliarces, the family occurs only in Australia. The 3 genera (Riek 1974b) are Ithone (10 spp.), predominantly found in sandy coastal areas, Megalithone (2 spp.) from higher altitude areas of southern Queensland and New South Wales., and Varnia (2 spp.) with a considerable inland range in semi-arid Australia.

  • Ithonidae; Ithone sp. larvae

  • Ithone sp.