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Lacewings

Chrysoperla spp.

Green lacewings are common in much of North America. Adults feed only on nectar, pollen, and aphid honeydew, but their larvae are active predators.

Description- Adult green lacewings are pale green, about 12-20 mm long, with long antennae and bright, golden eyes. They have large, transparent, pale green wings and a delicate body. Adults are active fliers, looking like little fairies while flying

They lay oval shaped eggs that are laid singly at the end of long silken stalks and are pale green, turning gray in several days. The larvae, which are very active, are gray or brownish and the  larvae resemble little “alligators”, and are gray green in color. Larvae grow from <1 mm to 6-8 mm.

Host Pests- Although the green lacewing is best known for its appetite for aphids, it can also be a highly effective general predator.  Not only will they prey on spider mites, but also small worms, immature whiteflies, leafhopper nymphs, immature mealybugs, thrips, scales, and caterpillar eggs.

Biology- Green lacewings overwinter as adults, usually in leaf litter at the edge of fields. When spring some the females will lay hundred of eggs though the summer.   Eggs typically hatch within a 3-6 days. Once hatched, the larvae need to feed immediately.   

If you buy lacewing larva you need to release them immediately, to avoid cannibalism.    They will start feeding once they find their insect-pest prey. After 2-3 weeks the larvae will pupate by spinning a cocoon with silken thread.  The adults emerge in about 5 days, mate, and the females lay their eggs.  Each female can produce up to 600 eggs, which are laid on top of hair-like filaments. It should be noted, however, that lacewings are not likely to reproduce in a greenhouse environment.

Adult Lacewing

Lacewing larva feeding on aphids. 

They  resemble little “alligators”,

and are gray green in color.

 

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