Living fossil: black-necked camel-neck fly named “Insect of the Year”

Dhe black-necked camel-neck fly will be the “Insect of the Year 2022”. This was announced by the Frankfurt Senckenberg Society for Nature Research. A board of trustees of experts chaired by Thomas Schmitt, director of the Senckenberg German Entomological Institute in Müncheberg, selected the fly from a series of proposals.

As Senckenberg writes in support of this, camel neck flies are now considered the most species-poor order of insects with complete metamorphosis – i.e. with a pupal stage. From the many fossil finds, however, it can be deduced that the insects were represented in much greater diversity on earth during the lifetime of the dinosaurs. The “Insect of the Year” has been proclaimed since 1999. Austria’s Environment Minister Leonore Gewessler (The Greens) will be the patron for 2022.

Most species poor in the class of insects

Camel neck flies are characterized by a noticeably long neck and crystal clear wings. They reach a size of six to 15 millimeters. Their order (Raphidoptera) is the poorest in species in the class of insects; only about 250 species are known worldwide.

“In Central Europe there are 16 species described so far – one of them is our ‘Insect of the Year 2022’: the black-necked camel-necked fly Venustoraphidia nigricollis,” explains institute director Schmitt. “For a long time this species was considered to be one of the rarest camel neck flies – until it was recognized that the adult animals with the characteristic black pronotum are mostly in the canopy of trees.”

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