Green Lacewing (Chrysopa spp.)
Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Green Lacewing.
Updated: 4/18/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The minty, dainty Green Lacewing is a wonderful friend to the gardener. They are visually appealing and voracious predators of pests.
Green Lacewings are widespread across North America. They are small and look very delicate. They are nocturnal as adults and can be found visiting gardens, flower beds, parks, meadows, farms, fields and even forests especially at dusk. Their flexibility when it comes to habitat and diet may be part of their huge range. They can be bought and sold online, much like useful Lady Beetles thanks to what they eat. Thousands are raised every year for deliberate release inside greenhouses, orchards, farms and gardens.
The larval Green Lacewing doesn't look like an insect at first glance. It resembles a dirty cotton ball or pile of plant and dead insect debris. This coat of camouflage is collected early after hatching in order to conceal itself from predators like ants. Green Lacewing larvae have huge appetites. They hatch and are immediately hungry. For this reason, females lay the tiny white eggs some distance apart so the siblings don't rush to eat each other as they hatch.
Larvae eat any small insect they encounter, and aphids (smaller flying insect that are the bane of gardeners and growers) are on top of the list. For this reason, they are also called "aphid lions". Aphids drink the juices of young plants, often killing them. Infestations are difficult to eliminate due to their rapid reproduction rate. Ants herd aphids like sheep in order to collect the sweet 'honeydew' they secrete from their bottoms. Because Green Lacewing larvae eat aphids, ants are quick to kill them to protect the herd, hence the need for camouflage. Unchecked by ants, Green Lacewings can control aphid populations without the need for chemical pesticides.
Adult Green Lacewings also eat aphids as well as pollen and the 'honeydew' created by aphids. Some species eat mealworms and other vegetable-harming insect. Green Lacewings can emit a foul smelling secretion when threatened. They are most active in the summer months.