University of Maryland Extension

Lacewings


Green lacewing

 
Brown lacewing


Green lacewing larva feeding on aphid


Green lacewing eggs attached to leaf where aphids are feeding

Lacewings are popular, commercially available beneficial insects. (Green lacewings) are the most common, but (brown lacewings) are also available. Lacewing adults are delicate, green or brown, with small heads, and large eyes. The wings are longer than the body, transparent, with a fine network of veins, and are about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch long. The (larvae) are alligator-like in appearance, spindle shaped, yellow to brown in color, and mottled. They have spines along their sides and long curved mouthparts (mandibles). (Eggs) of lacewings are often found in great numbers on plants infested with prey such as aphids or mites. Eggs of green lacewings are laid on the end of long, fine stalks, and are often attached to leaves or twigs.

Lacewings are excellent predators of aphids and other small insects. Lacewings are very effective predators in the garden and landscape because they are released as eggs or larvae, not adults. Hatching larvae will eat anything they encounter, size permitting, including siblings. They eat aphids, lace bugs, caterpillars, larvae of some beetles, insect eggs, and mites. Distribute eggs or larvae evenly around infested plants to minimize cannibalism and to maximize their usefulness as biological control organisms. Ants foraging on plants are a major predator of lacewing eggs and larvae.

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