New Insect Species Found… On Photo Sharing Website

-By Warner Todd Huston

There may be nothing new under the sun, but there appears to be at least one thing new on the Internet. Scientists have announced this year that a new bug was identified on the Internet. No, not a virus or trojan program, but a real bug. An insect, now dubbed Semachrysa jade, was discovered by an entomologist who was looking at pictures of bugs uploaded by a user of the photo sharing site Flickr.

As entomologists are wont to do, Shaun Winterton was perusing Flickr last year looking at pictures of bugs uploaded by users of the photo sharing site when he came across a photo of a bug he’d never seen before.

The photo shows a green lacewing with black lines and shimmering blue spots on its wings. Winterton, a senior entomologist at the California Department of Food and Agriculture, says that this coloration has never been seen before on a lacewing.

Winterton sent the photo to several bug-loving colleagues of his quizzing them if they had ever seen the insect. Turns out none of them had. Winterton had found a bug unknown to science and on the Internet of all places.

The bugman contacted Flickr user Guek Hock Ping to ask where he’d gotten the photo and was told it was taken in the jungles of Malaysia. Initially the user said he had no specimen and had just taken a photo, but a year later he contacted Winterton again saying he’d caught one.

Winterton contacted Steve Brooks of the London Natural History Museum and together with the Flickr user they began the process of identifying and classifying the bug.

The announcement of the find was recently made in the scientific journal ZooKeys and was written by Winterton, Mr. Guek Hock Ping, and Brooks — a collaboration spanning three continents and fittingly conducted over the Internet.

Just like Andrew Breitbart, we here on the conservative side of the Internet are fond of saying that we are all journalists now because of the Internet, but Winterton has a variation of that theme: we are all naturalists now.

“There’s thousands of images a minute uploaded on Flickr,” he says. “I think there are many more discoveries forthcoming, particularly as more people are getting out into the field.”

Of course, the excitement that the bug community has over this “new” insect might be amusing to the bug. He always knew he was there!
“The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”
–Samuel Johnson

Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer. He has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and before that he wrote articles on U.S. history for several small American magazines. His political columns are featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart’s,, and, as well as,,,,, among many, many others. Mr. Huston is also endlessly amused that one of his articles formed the basis of an article in Germany’s Der Spiegel Magazine in 2008.

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Copyright Publius Forum 2001