Windsor men make 'pleasing' Canadian-first discovery of flying insect

The 'pleasing lacewing' is a tiny insect that has never been seen in Canada — that is, until Tom Preney and Russ Jones spotted a specimen in a Windsor backyard last summer.

Tom Preney and Russ Jones discovered the 'pleasing lacewing' near the Spring Garden Nature Area

Russ Jones (left) and Tom Preney take a look at their discovery. (Steve Marks)

The 'pleasing lacewing' is a tiny insect that has never been seen in Canada — that is, until Tom Preney and Russ Jones spotted a specimen in Windsor last summer.

"It's a very small insect that is almost moth-light — it's less than a centimetre big," explained Tom Preney, who also happens to be the City of Windsor's biodiversity coordinator. "It's inconspicuous." 

The lifelong bug watcher, who had set up an illuminated insect observing area in his backyard near the city's Spring Garden Natural Area, told CBC Radio's Afternoon Drive that the unusual insect was quite distinctive.

"The wings were translucent and they had small little hairs on them — and the antennae ... were almost feather-like," he said. "It really caught my eye."

The first pleasing lacewing spotted in Canada. (Russ Jones)

Preney and Jones published an article about the discovery in the latest issue of The Journal of the Entomological Society of Ontario. 

While the men are the first to have shared their discovery of the insect in Canada, they note in their article that because the pleasing lacewing was spotted in Detroit as early as the 1940s, "it is likely this species has been present in Canada all along."

Nevertheless, Preney is excited by the discovery, and hopes it encourages amateur bug watchers in the region to keep their eyes peeled for unusual insects.

"It's not every day you can say you found a new insect family to Canada," he said.

About the Author

Jonathan Pinto

Jonathan Pinto is a reporter/editor at CBC Windsor, primarily assigned to Afternoon Drive, CBC Radio's regional afternoon show for southwestern Ontario. Email jonathan.pinto@cbc.ca.