Nemopteridae are a charismatic family of lacewings characterised by uniquely extended hind wings.They
are an ancient widespread group in the drier regions of the world. The family comprises two subfamilies,
Crocinae (thread-wings) and Nemopterinae (spoon- and ribbon-wings). The present distribution of the
family has been largely influenced by the vicariant events of plate tectonics, resulting in relict populations
in some parts of the world and extensive evolutionary radiations in others, particularly southern Africa
where the vast majority of the species are endemic to the Western and Northern Cape Provinces of South
Africa. This study aimed to establish the validity of the 11 currently recognised genera and infer their
biogeographic history using molecular sequence data from four gene regions. The hypothesis that the
Cape nemopterines co-evolved with certain taxa in the Cape Floristic Region was also tested.
Phylogenetic analysis supports seven of the 11 currently recognised genera. The crown age of the
Nemopterinae is estimated to be at ca. 145.6 Mya, indicating that the group has been present since the
late Jurassic. Most of the genera appear to have diversified during the middle Eocene and into the middle
Miocene (ca. 44 - 11 Mya) with recent rapid radiation of several of the genera occurring during the late
Miocene (ca. 6 - 4.5 Mya). While these data support an initial radiation with the Rushioideae (Aizoaceae)
it is recommended that further study including observations and gut content be carried out.