clean up the garden

Snapped: Lacewings

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Green lacewings are among the most beautiful insects – and they’re beneficial! Adults have large, net-like wings, a narrow body with slender legs, golden eyes, and arching antennae. Their family consists of some 1,200-plus species, most of which are nocturnal as adults. I often find adult lacewings clinging to my window screens at night. Most species lay eggs individually, or in groups, on half-inch-high stalks, lending the appearance of tiny lollipops in a row. The hatching larvae look much like miniature brown alligators. As generalist predators, the larvae use their large mandibles to capture a wide range of prey, including small caterpillars, aphids, mealybugs, beetles, lacebugs, whiteflies, and assorted insect larvae. In other words, they eat all manner of garden pests!  Keep an eye out for green lacewings in your garden this year and watch them do their incredible work.       

Some species of green lacewings in the Crysopidae family “sing” to attract a mate, though their “songs” are of such low frequency that they are nearly inaudible to humans, unless your ear is right up against the insect. These “songs” are produced through rapid motions of the insect’s abdomen that cause the plant material on which they are perched to vibrate. Males and females of the same species exchange nearly identical duets during courtship, with each “song’s” pattern being particular to the given species. If you are interested in hearing the beautifully haunting, rhythmic “songs” of these lacewings, here’s a cool website where you can listen.

Lacewing egg

Lacewing eggs can look like lollipops in a row

Lacewing larvae

The hatching larvae look like tiny alligators

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