Latin Name: Family Chrysopidae. (Over 85 genera and 2,000 species in the world.)
Why are they beneficial?
Larvae feed on soft-bodied pests, mealy bugs, scale, spider mites, thrips, caterpillars, whitefly, leafhoppers, and pest eggs.
They LOVE aphids!
A larva can eat 100-200 aphids per week.
Many adults do not feed on other insects but on nectar and pollen; however, some adults (like the common Chrysopa genus – the “common green lacewing”) are voracious eaters of pests in the garden as well.
What is their life cycle?
The female will lay her eggs (200-300 in her life) in a small cluster on a plant leaf or stem.
The eggs are suspended on a hair-like stalk.
In a few days, the eggs hatch into larvae.
The larvae mature and grow for 1-3 weeks depending on environmental conditions.
When mature, the larvae pupate (go into a cocoon-like stage).
In about 5 days, the adults emerge.
What do they look like?
This is important. Most people only know what the adult looks like. Here is what to look for in all stages of the life cycle.
Prey: Lacewing Larvae feed on soft-bodied pests, mealy bugs, scale, spider mites, thrips, caterpillars, whitefly, leafhoppers, and pest eggs.
Food: While some adult Lacewings are carnivoers and will eat the prey items above, all adult Lacewings should have nectar and pollen from flowers that have shallow clusters or are umbrella shaped to ensure reproduction… and more larvae!
Examples of plants that provide nectar and pollen to Lacewings: basket of gold, buckwheat, butterfly weed, carpet bugleweed, chamomile, chervil, chives, clover, cornflower, cosmos, coreopsis, cinquefoil, coriander, dandelion, dill, fennel, four-wing saltbush, golden marguerite, marigold, mustard, parsley, queen anne’s lace, scented geraniums, spike speedwell, sunflowers, tansy, vetch, wild carrot, yarrow).
Lacewings also need places to overwinter – loose mulch, leaf litter, under rocks, etc.
Some Lacewings will overwinter in the pupal (cocoon) stage.