New Insect Species Discovered—on Flickr

Insect expert in California discovers new species through Malaysian photographer's posts.


Call it fate, or just pure luck; one insect species recently gained a scientific name due to an eagle-eyed taxonomist browsing images on Flickr.

Our short story begins with a simple upload: Amateur photographer Hock Ping Guek posted a series of close-up photos featuring a strange green lacewing insect to the photo-sharing service in May 2011. Guek, who observed the lacewing at a state park in the Malaysian state of Selangor, has a penchant for macro insect photography.

Shaun Winterton, a senior insect biosystematist for the California Department of Food & Agriculture, along with other researchers, randomly came across the images of the unusual green lacewing on Flickr. They set off to identify the unknown insect.