I saw this insect crawling on a wall in the UK (Birmingham) today (March 28th). It's about 5mm long. I assumed it was a white fly, but having looked at other images of white files on google, I don't think it is! I assume the fact it has jet black eyes means it's normally nocturnal?

enter image description here


1 Answer 1


At first I was thinking Trichoptera, but the antenna were not long enough and I noticed your size is quite small (~5mm).

The small size and body stance made me think of the order Neuroptera (the net-winged insects).

Specifically, this specimen reminds me of the family Coniopterygidae (or the dustywings).

A distinguishing feature is that like many other Neuroptera, dustywings carry their wings nearly side-by-side when at rest, whereas whiteflies carry them almost flat across the back [the last part being related to the OP's original thought that their specimen was a whitefly]

Interestingly, unlike many other net-winged insects, the dustywings do not actually have "net-winged" venation -- just like the OP's specimen.

If this is in fact a dustywing, according to Wikipedia:

These tiny insects can usually be determined to genus with a hand lens according to their wing venation, but to distinguish species, examination of the genitals by microscope is usually necessary.

Just as a reference, according to here and here, a similar looking species called Conwentzia pineticola lives in the UK. You can see a picture of this species below:

enter image description here

Source: NatureSpot

Comments on appearance and characteristics:

From Catherine A. Tauber et al. (2009) in Encyclopedia of Insects (Second Edition):

The Coniopterygidae is generally a very homogeneous family characterized by very small adults (forewing length 2–5 mm) with bodies covered by white waxy (“dusty”) secretions.

The family name means "dusty wing" [source] due to the usually conspicuous whitish dust of waxy scales on the wings of these insects. I can't tell if this "dusty" nature is apparent in your picture or whether your picture is simply blurry.

Regarding the antenna, Tauber et al mention:

Adults have chewing mouthparts, large compound eyes located laterally on the head, and multiarticulate antennae that are usually filiform (thread-like) or moniliform (with bead-like segments).

You can see a similar looking (and similar sized) specimen from the U.S. here and one from Spain here. Additional images on bugguide.net seem to suggest that your specimen is in the subfamily Coniopteryginae.


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