Chrysoperla carnea group and Peyerimhoffina gracilis

Chrysoperla carnea group

Chrysoperla carnea group represents three morphologically similar species:

Chrysoperla carnea

Chrysoperla pallida

Chrysoperla lucasina

All three species overwinter in the British Isles, with C. carnea and C. pallida changing to a brownish-pink colour.

The species were distinguished from one another based on the songs they produced, with each species having its own distinct song. The song is a substrate based song, caused by abdominal vibration, which is used to attract a mate. These songs were analysed, including the description of Chrysoperla pallida as a species, by Henry et al. 2002 (see below).

The recording set up and the songs of each individual species (Henry et al. 2002, 2013)

It is relatively tricky to identify these species from morphology alone, below are some features which may be helpful.

Chrysoperla carnea

Chrysoperla carnea has slightly more rounded wings than Chrysoperla lucasina and turns brown overwinter, whereas C. lucasina stays green.

Features of Chrysoperla carnea. Photographs: T. Rintala & T. Lehto and O. Fogh Nielsen (CC BY 4.0)

Chrysoperla lucasina

Chrysoperla lucasina has forewings that appear more pointed and a brown line may be present on the membrane between the tergite (T) and sternite (S) at the base of the abdomen (see below image).

Chrysoperla lucasina morphological features. Photograph: K.M. Olsen (CC BY 4.0)

Chrysoperla carnea and Chrysoperla lucasina comparison

If you have comparative material then you can look at the hairs on the leading edge of the forewing. Chrysoperla carnea has longer hairs whereas C. lucasina has shorter hairs (see below image).

Comparison of hairs on Chrysoperla carnea and Chrysopertla lucasina. Photographs T. Rintala and T. Lehto: C. carnea, K.M. Olsen: hair comparison (aa CC BY 4.0)

Chrysoperla pallida

This is a relatively recently described species (2002). The potential defining characters include short blonde hairs on the abdomen and a narrow brown stripe on the cheek (gena) below the eyes (see below image), this however is observed in C. carnea but seems more defined in C. pallida. As with Chrysoperla carnea this species turns brown in winter.

Potential features to identify Chrysoperla pallida. Photrographs: K.M. Olsen (CC BY 4.0)

Chrysoperla carnea and Chrysoperla pallida comparison

The best way to differentiate between Chrysoperla carnea and Chrysoperla pallida is by looking at the male genitalia (see image below). Chrysoperla carnea has a larger lip and a narrow chin, whereas C. pallida has a smaller lip and broader chin.

Male genitalia comparison for Chrysoperla pallida and Chrysoperla carnea (Henry et al. 2002).

Chrysoperla carnea group

If you have any doubts about the identification of the species, as long as the crossvein RMCV is not coinciding with cell IMC (see below image), then you can record it as Chrysoperla carnea group.

Defining feature of Chrysoperla carnea group (make sure to check both wings). Photograph: T. Rintala & T. Lehto (CC BY 4.0)

Peyerimhoffina gracilis

Peyerimhoffina gracilis is a relatively recently recorded species in the British Isles, first recorded in 1999.

It can be identified by the crossvein RMCV being present at the apex of cell IMC, the wings appear narrow, the inner gradate series of crossveins having at least twice as many as the outer series (see below image), and the tip of the abdomen is acutely pointed.

Defining features of P. gracilis. Photographs: T. Rintala & T. Lehto (CC BY 4.0)
Peyerimhoffina gracilis, note the acutely pointed abdomen: Photograph: O. Fogh Nielsen (CC BY 4.0)