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New insect species identified through Flickr

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An new species of lacewing was discovered through photo-sharing site Flickr.

Semachrysa jade
Semachrysa jade

In May last year, photographer Guek Hock Ping took photos of a lacewing in Malaysia and posted them on photo-sharing site Flickr. Entomologist Shaun Winterton stumbled upon the gallery, and didn't recognize the distinct blue and black markings found on the insect's wings. After sending the link to colleagues, who were also unable to identify the insect, Winterton became convinced that the photographed specimen was from a species unknown to science. Winterton reached out to Guek but was dismayed to discover that the photographer had no more information on the species — he'd simply shot the photographs and allowed the insect to fly away.

A year later, Guek contacted Winterton — after returning to the same area where the original images were shot, he'd managed to find the elusive creature again and had captured one, which sat in a container in his kitchen. Winterton arranged for the insect to be sent to Steve Brooks, an entomologist from the Natural History Museum in London, who confirmed that it belonged to a new species. Brooks also found a matching specimen in the museum's collection that had remained unclassified for decades. The species was named 'Semachrysa jade,' after Winterton's daughter, and the discovery was featured in scientific journal ZooKeys this month. Fittingly, the paper detailing the 'online' discovery was co-authored remotely via GoogleDocs by Winterton, Guek, and Brooks.