Mar 3, 2023 - News

Jurassic-era bug rediscovered outside Fayetteville Walmart

The Polystoechotes punctata, or giant lacewing, collected in Fayetteville in 2012. Photo: Courtesy of Michael Skvarla/Penn State

An entomologist's dreams came true at Walmart.

  • But he didn't know it for years.

What happened: An insect long thought to be extinct was discovered in 2012 by Michael Skvarla on the side of a Fayetteville Walmart.

  • Skvarla was a University of Arkansas doctoral student at the time.

Why it matters: The bug hadn't been seen in North America for more than 50 years, and Skvarla's find was the first known sighting in Arkansas.

  • Its discovery may be part of a larger story about biodiversity and a changing environment, according to Skvarla.

What they're saying: "I thought it looked interesting, so I put it in my hand and did the rest of my shopping with it between my fingers."

  • "I got home, mounted it, and promptly forgot about it for almost a decade."
  • Skvarla, now director of Pennsylvania State University's insect identification lab, recounted the story for the school's media office in February.

The big picture: NWA is home to other threatened and endangered species, notably the blind Ozark cave fish found around I-49 development and the Arkansas darter in the Springwoods area in Fayetteville, near the Sam's Club.

What's next: Skvarla has preserved the specimen for further research.

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