Lacewing (beneficial insect)
- Eggs: Females lay small, elongated white eggs that are attached to foliage by a slender stalk. Eggs hatch in 5 days.
- Larvae: Larvae are brown with yellow dots along their side and can grow up to 9 millimetres in length. Larvae look like flat alligators with large, curved, pincer-like jaws. Larvae prey on many pest insects but prefer aphids, which is why they are also known as “aphid lions”.
- Pupae: After 12 days, larvae create a cocoon where they stay for 10 days before emerging as an adult lacewing.
- Adults: Adult lacewings are green or yellow green insects approximately 20 millimetres in length. Adults have golden eyes and have four delicate lace-like wings which can span over 30 millimetres. If caught, lacewings emit a foul odour as a protective mechanism.
Encouraging lacewing populations:
- Preferred food sources: Lacewing larvae are more important predators than adults; larvae can eat anywhere from 20 to a few hundred aphids per day. Larvae also eat mealy bugs, scale, spider mites, mite eggs, whiteflies, leafhoppers, small caterpillars, and thrips. Adult lacewings feed on pollen, honeydew, and mealy bugs.
- Bright light: Bright light attracts adult lacewings. It’s the reason why they often fly towards your home’s interior lights when you open your door at night.
Lacewings are one of the most important ‘biological tools’ you have in your IPM toolkit. Avoid accidentally killing these beneficial insects through the use of chemical insecticides.