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Green Lacewing (Chrysopa spp.)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Green Lacewing



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The minty-colored, dainty Green Lacewing is a wonderful friend to the gardener thanks to their voracious appetite for plant pests.



Updated: 07/06/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Green Lacewings are widespread across North America. They are small and look very delicate thanks to transparent wings covered in fine green veins. They emit a foul smelling secretion when threatened. They are nocturnal as adults and can be found visiting gardens, flower beds, parks, meadows, farms, and fields at dusk. Their flexibility when it comes to habitat and diet may explain their huge range.

Adult Green Lacewings eat aphids, the 'honeydew' created by aphids, and pollen. Some species eat mealworms and other vegetable-harming insects. They can be bought and sold online, much like useful Lady Beetles, thanks to their diet. 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 covers itself with piles of plant litter 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. Females lay tiny white eggs from thin, dangling lines on a leaf or plant stalk to provide some distance between siblings so they 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 are a garden pest because they drink the juices of young plants, often killing them. Infestations are difficult to eliminate due to their small size and 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. If left undisturbed by ants, Green Lacewings can control aphid populations without the need for chemical pesticides.

Mature Lacewings are most active in the summer months. Look for a row of Lacewing eggs hanging from a fine thread on blades of grass or plant stalks in the spring and celebrate if you find them. Those welcome, tiny dirtballs will become flying adults by the summer.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Helpful insect icon


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Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Neuroptera
        Family: Chrysopidae
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          Genus: Chrysopa
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            Species: spp.
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Chrysopa spp.
Category: Antlion or Lacewing
Size (Adult; Length): 11mm to 14mm (0.43" to 0.55")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: green, white
Descriptors: delicate, translucent, flying, helpful, cottony ball, waxy, puff

Green-Lacewing Video(s)




Just a tiny Lacewing larva fixing its coat of debris before heading out.
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Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 11mm (0.4in) and 14mm (0.6in)
Lo: 11mm
Md: 12.5mm
Hi: 14mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Green Lacewing may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Green Lacewing. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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