It was a close shot of a green lacewing — an insect he knew well — but on its wing was an unfamiliar network of black lines and a few flecks of blue.

Winterton, a senior entomologist at the California Department of Food and Agriculture, has seen a lot of bugs. But he hadn't seen this species before.

"I sent the link to a few colleagues of mine," Winterton told The Picture Show. "They hadn't seen it either. And I realized: This thing's new."

Excited, Winterton emailed Guek Hock Ping, the photographer who had posted the pictures of the unclassified lacewing on Flickr, a popular photo-sharing site.

Guek had noticed the insect while hiking the jungles of Malaysia, taken the photos, and then watched it fly away.

Winterton was disappointed. Without an intact specimen, there would be no way to confirm that this was in fact a new species.