Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada

Family Ascalaphidae - Owlflies

Owlfly, it is! - Ululodes macleayanus Owlfly - Ululodes macleayanus Diptera of some kind - Ululodes macleayanus - male Owlfly - Ululodes macleayanus - female cross betw. mayfly and robberfly - Ululodes macleayanus Ululodes - Ululodes floridanus Ululodes? Male? - Ululodes - male ?Owl fly - Ululodes
Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Neuroptera (Antlions, Owlflies, Lacewings, Mantidflies and Allies)
Suborder Myrmeleontiformia (Antlions and Owlflies)
Family Ascalaphidae (Owlflies)
Explanation of Names
Ascalaphidae Rambur 1842
Based on genus Ascalaphus (from Greek ascalaphus, supposedly a kind of owl(1); Ascalaphus, a mythological character, was turned into an owl)
Numbers
8 spp. in 3 genera in our area(2), ~430 spp. in almost 100 genera worldwide. (Photographic record here would indicate a 4th genus occurs in our area.)
Identification
Bizarre creatures that look like a cross between a dragonfly and a butterfly. The body resembles that of other neuropterans, more-or-less, but the prominent antennae are clubbed like those of butterflies. Key characters:
Medium to large size
Clubbed antennae
Eyes large and bulge out from head
May rest in cryptic posture with abdomen projecting from perch, resembling a twig

Wing venation of Ululodes:

The two widespread North American genera can be easily distinguished based on structure of the eyes, divided in Ululodes (left), undivided in Ascaloptynx (right):


Penny (2) notes another genus, with one North American species (Central America into Texas): Ascalobyas albistigma (Walker).
The sole specimen was taken near Juno, Val Verde County, Texas, in August 1973 (3). As of December 2017, there were no photographic records of this species on BugGuide, but it should be looked for.
Note also a recently identified (2017) record of an apparent Haploglenius species from Arizona.
Range
Worldwide, mostly tropical; in our area, mostly s. US, one sp. ranges into ON(2); local faunas of NC(4), FL(5), KS(6)
Life Cycle
Eggs are laid on twigs:

Larvae predatory, lie on ground covered with debris waiting for prey(7)(8). They resemble antlion larvae but have a finger-like appendage on the side of each segment(8). Different instars:

Some genera actively cement sand and debris onto their bodies as camouflage [see Henry(1977) under "Print References"]. Pupate in a silk cocoon in leaf litter.
Print References
Henry, C.S. (1972) Eggs and rapagula [sic] of Ululodes and Ascaloptynx (Neuroptera: Ascalaphidae): a comparative study. Psyche 79:1-22 (Full Text)
Henry, C.S. (1977) The behavior and life histories of two North American ascalaphids. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Amer. 70: 179-195. (Full Text)
Lago P.K., Testa S. (1989) Records of owlflies (Neuroptera: Ascalaphidae) from Mississippi, with a key to species. Entomological News 100(1): 11-17. (Full text)
Internet References
Haplogleniinae page (Jones 2010)