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Huge Flying Insect On A Walmart Building Turns Out To Be A Jurassic-Era Discovery

Huge flying insect on a Walmart building turns out to be a Jurassic-era discovery as a giant flying insect found in Arkansas recently made headlines after it was discovered to be a rare Jurassic-era lacewing bug. The insect, identified as Polystoechotes punctata, was found by an employee of the store who noticed it while doing maintenance work on the building.

Landon Morton
Mar 07, 2023613 Shares18565 Views
Huge flying insect on a Walmart building turns out to be a Jurassic-era discoveryas a giant flying insect found in Arkansas recently made headlines after it was discovered to be a rare Jurassic-era lacewing bug. The insect, identified as Polystoechotes punctata, was found by an employee of the store who noticed it while doing maintenance work on the building.
According to reports, the lacewing bug is one of the largest insects of its kind ever discovered, with a wingspan measuring over four inches. The insect's discovery has excited scientists and entomologists alike, as it provides insight into the evolution and diversity of insects during the Jurassic period.
During a shopping trip in 2012, Michael Skvarla, who was a doctoral student of entomology at the University of Arkansas and is now the director of Pennsylvania State University's Insect Identification Lab, spotted the Jurassic-era insect, also known as a giant lacewing.
I remember it vividly, because I was walking into Walmart to get milk and I saw this huge insect on the side of the building. I thought it looked interesting, so I put it in my hand and did the rest of my shopping with it between my fingers. I got home, mounted it, and promptly forgot about it for almost a decade.- Michael Skvarla
He described the lacewing bug as "one of the coolest insects you'll ever see." He added that the insect's large size and intricate wing patterns are "absolutely amazing."
"The fact that this insect was spotted in a region that it hasn't been seen in over half a century tells us something more broadly about the environment," said Michael Skvarla, who is now the director of Pennsylvania State University's Insect Identification Lab and coauthor of a paper published in the Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington.
The giant lacewing, which disappeared from eastern North America in the 1950s, was thought to have been wiped out completely in the region. The recent discovery of the lacewing in Arkansas is the first record of the species in the state.
According to Skvarla, the insect's disappearance is suspected to have been due to efforts to suppress natural forest fires in eastern North America. The bigger mystery, however, is how the insect ended up at a superstore in an urban area of Arkansas.
"It could have been 100 years since (the species) was even in this area - and it's been years since it's been spotted anywhere near it. The next closest place that they've been found was 1,200 miles away, so very unlikely it would have traveled that far," Skvarla said. He suggested the lacewing was attracted to the lights and flew at least a few hundred meters from where it had been living.

Giant flying insect found on Walmart building turns out to be Jurassic-era find

Skvarla's find has opened the door for future lacewing discoveries, as insect enthusiasts begin to check their own collections and search for the species in the wild in places they hadn't thought to look before, said Dr. Floyd Shockley, the collections manager for the department of entomology at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
According to Shockley:
Anytime that you find an insect species not in a place that you're used to it being, that has a lot of implications for our understanding of that species - the kind of distribution it has, the kind of ecosystem that it might require to complete its life cycle. It means something that we thought was gone, at least from the Eastern US, may still be there, and it's just hiding in small pockets.- Dr. Floyd Shockley, the collections manager for the department of entomology at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Shockley also emphasized the importance of museum collections, such as the one with the Smithsonian or at Penn State, where the lacewing resides, as they "help to capture different snapshots of biodiversity across time and allows us to see what is happening and why it is happening."
"Everybody always sort of focuses in on the big stuff - big birds and mammals and things like that. But this is an insect world. We're just living on it," Shockley said. "It is really important to have that sort of appreciation. And one of the nice things about insects is that there is so much diversity for you to appreciate, just in your backyard."
The discovery of the lacewing bug is also significant because it provides evidence of the ancient insect's ability to adapt and survive in different environments. Lacewing bugs are typically found in humid forests and wetlands, but this particular specimen was found on the side of a Walmart building in a more urbanized area.
While the discovery of the lacewing bug is exciting, it also highlights the importance of protecting and preserving natural habitats. As more and more of the world's forests and wetlands are destroyed or altered by human activity, the diversity and abundance of insect species are threatened. This, in turn, can have a ripple effect on the ecosystems that insects support.
Insects are an essential part of our planet's biodiversity and play a crucial role in pollination, decomposition, and nutrient cycling. However, they are often overlooked and undervalued in conservation efforts. The discovery of the lacewing bug serves as a reminder of the importance of studying and protecting these fascinating creatures.

Conclusion

The discovery of the Jurassic-era lacewing bug on a Walmart building in Arkansas is a significant event for scientists and entomologists. It provides insight into the evolution and diversity of insects during the Jurassic period and highlights the importance of protecting natural habitats for insect species. As we continue to explore and study our planet's biodiversity, it is essential to remember the vital role that insects play in maintaining the health and balance of our ecosystems.
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