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Insect, Lost and Found

A scientist discovered an insect in a part of the world where it hasn’t been seen for years.

An insect with two sets of wide wings against a white background

Michael Skvarla/Penn State

For an insect, the giant lacewing is a giant. Its wingspan is about 2 inches (6 centimeters).

Wow! A scientist in the U.S. state of Arkansas discovered a giant insect that hasn’t been seen in the eastern part of North America in more than 60 years.

The discovery took place in 2012. Michael Skvarla, who is an entomologist (a scientist who studies insects), was at Walmart to buy some milk. He spotted the winged insect on the wall of the building and took it home with him. Skvarla thought he had found a type of insect called an antlion.

In 2020, Skvarla was teaching a class online and decided to show his class the insect he found at Walmart. He put the insect (which was no longer alive) under a microscope so his students could study it. He told his students it was an antlion. But as Skvarla studied the insect closely, he realized it wasn’t an antlion. In fact, it was a very rare giant lacewing.

“We all realized together that the insect was not what it was labeled,” Skvarla said. “Here we were, making a true discovery.”

Giant lacewings have been around for much longer than humans. They first appeared during the Jurassic Period, which began 200 million years ago! That means giant lacewings were flying around while dinosaurs roamed Earth.

But that’s not the only amazing thing about this discovery. Giant lacewings were last seen in eastern North America in the 1950s. Scientists thought that the whole eastern North American population of giant lacewings had died out. 

So, why was a giant lacewing hanging around Walmart in 2012? Skvarla isn’t sure. It might have hitched a ride on a ship. But it’s possible that there are still some giant lacewings in eastern North America—they just haven’t been found yet!

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Fun Fact

© wanetza—Vetta/Getty Images

One of the biggest insects in the world is the rhinoceros beetle. It can grow to 7 inches (18 centimeters) long! Rhinoceros beetles may be large, but they don’t hurt humans.

Happy Pi Day!

Did you know that March 14 is Pi Day? Pi is a number with many digits. Most people shorten pi to 3.14. Since you can write March 14 as 3/14, people celebrate this day as Pi Day!

Pi is sort of a magic number when it comes to circles. Check this out.

Let’s say you draw a circle. If you measure around the circle, you get its circumference. If you measure across the circle is at its widest point, you get its diameter.

Two wheels of Swiss cheese, one showing circumference and the other showing diameter with a mouse on either side.

© Catherine Douglas/; Composite illustration Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

If you divide the circumference of a circle by the diameter of the circle, you get a number that’s very close to 3.14. 

Let’s try it. Below, we have some cheese that’s shaped like a circle. Its circumference is 15.7 inches. Its diameter is 5 inches. If we divide 15.7 by 5, we get 3.14!

© Catherine Douglas/; Composite illustration Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

You can do this with any circle. You will always get a number that’s very close to 3.14.

All this math is making us hungry! The good news is that people have an amazing way to celebrate Pi Day. They eat pie!

It’s Einstein Day!

Harris and Ewing Collection/Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. (LC-DIG-hec-31012), © Liza Tkachuk/, © Alec/; Animation Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

March 14 isn’t just Pi Day. It’s also the birthday of Albert Einstein. You can learn more about this incredible scientist and his discoveries at Britannica School.

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Word of the Day


Part of speech:



: a branch of science that deals with the study of insects

Definitions provided by
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Can you find all the types of pie?


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