Beneficial Insects: Green Lacewings

The green lacewing (Chrysoperla sp.) is a common beneficial insect found in the landscape. They are a generalist predator best known for feeding on aphids, but will also control mites and other soft-bodied insects such as caterpillars, leafhoppers, mealybugs and whiteflies.

Adult lacewing with its slender body and net-like wings.

Adult lacewing with its slender body and net-like wings.

The adult green lacewing has a long slender green body and golden eyes. It has prominent wings with lace-like veins. An adult will be approximately 0.75” in length. They are typically night flying insects.  Females can lay up to 200 tiny, oblong eggs on silken stalks attached to the leaf surface. Depending on the species, eggs are laid singly or in clusters, each on an individual stalk. Eggs are green when laid and darken as they mature. Eggs hatch in about 4 days. The adult is not a predator and feeds on honeydew, nectar and pollen.

Oblong lacewing eggs on a silken stalk.

Oblong lacewing eggs on a silken stalk.

The larval stage, sometimes called an aphidlion, is a voracious feeder. During its three stages of development, a larva can consume 200-300 aphids. Larvae look like an alligator; they are flattened and have a tapered tail.

Lacewing larvae

Lacewing larvae

They are usually pale with darker markings and have six distinct legs. A set of sickle-shaped mandibles are present used for puncturing and sucking the fluids from its prey. The lacewing larvae pupate in a loosely woven spherical cocoon attached to plants or under loose bark. Pupation lasts for 10-14 days.

Pupae stage is a spherical cocoon

The spherical cocoon of the pupae stage

Growing diverse plant material in your garden or landscape will help to invite and maintain a healthy population of beneficial insects.  If you are a greenhouse or nursery grower, green lacewings can be purchased to augment an integrated pest management program.

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