A Malaysian amateur photographer, Guek Hock Ping, captured a beautiful green lacewing in early 2011. Before freeing it, he took some pictures that were uploaded to Flickr. When Shaun Winterton, an entomologist who works at the California Department of Food & Agriculture, saw the pictures, he realised that the specimen had a distinctive wing pattern and wondered if it was a new species.
Although similar to Semachrysa wallacei, researchers and citizen scientists, including Guek Hock, tried to capture another specimen in Selangor State Park in Malaysia; and year later, in 2012, they found a female specimen.
“The unusual new species is easily differentiated from all other species of Semachrysa by the distinctive wing venation mark between the antennal bases and only two spots across the frons,” wrote the researchers in a paper recently published in the journal Zoo Keys.
The now famous Semachrysa jade has a forewing length 15 mm; its discovery is proof of the fruitful collaboration between citizen scientists and researchers.