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Lacewings – Ten Interesting Facts About These Insects

These little insects are great for the garden as they like feeding on common garden pests. They are little, being only about three centimetres in length. There are 14 different species of Lacewing in the United Kingdom, with approximately 2,000 species worldwide. Lacewings are part of the Neuroptera order, and part of a large family called Chrysopidae. Their Latin name is Chrysoperla Carnea and it is otherwise known as the Common Green Lacewing.

  1. Lacewings are mainly nocturnal, sleeping during the day and being active through the night; however they are also crepuscular, which means that they are also active at twilight time.
  2. They are often seen between April and August, when there is ample nectar and pollen available for the adults. They are seen mainly around parks, gardens and meadows.
  3. They get their name from the delicate, transparent, lace-like look of their wings. The wings have small, green veins on them with a four centimetre wingspan. Lacewings are poor fliers. They fold their wings in a tent like motion above their abdomens.
  4. They have green bodies, with metallic, prominent golden coloured eyes. In winter their body will turn to a light pink colour.
  5. As adult insects, some will hibernate in winter, under leaf litter or long grasses, whilst others will die.
  6. They are great for the garden, as the adults feed on pollen and nectar. However, the larvae are carnivorous predators and love munching on aphids, greenflies and other insects that gardeners declare as pests. They actually suck the juices out of their prey. The larvae inject enzymes into their prey to digest the internal organs – they can then suck out the fluids. Once the larvae are eight millimetres long they will then spin a cocoon and pupate.
  7. The different sibling species can only be really differentiated by the different vibrational songs that they use to communicate with each other.
  8. Each female lays a couple of hundred eggs at night and the hatch within six days. The larvae are only one millimetre long when they first hatch. They actually look like tiny little alligators, with pincers on their heads.
  9. The larvae can actually turn cannibal if there is no other food source to sustain them.
  10. Lacewings are often used as a biological control for other insects that are considered as pests, in crop growth etc. However, it Lacewings disperse quickly if there is no other form of food, for example, nectar or pollen to keep them in the original placement area.