Bugs are our friends: Green Lacewing

If you have seen a pale green, almost translucent insect with golden eyes, either flying around or perched on a leaf, it’s probably a Green Lacewing.  These delicate creatures are harmless, but their larvae are voracious predators, devouring soft-bodied pests such as mealy bugs, scale, spider mites, caterpillars, whitefly, leafhoppers, pest eggs and aphids.

The female lays 200 or more eggs on a plant leaf and stem, each suspended on a hair-like stalk.  After several days, the eggs hatch, and the larvae feed insatiably on insect pests.  One lacewing larva can eat as many as 600 aphids during the 1 to 4 weeks before it pupates.  After about 5 days in the pupal stage, an adult lacewing emerges.  The Green Lacewing in this photo was found at Merrimac Farm.

You can help create an environment where lacewings thrive.  A garden with flowers  will attract adults, who survive primarily on nectar and pollen.  Lacewings like high humidity, which is the norm for our Virginia summers.  They also need a place to overwinter, under loose mulch, leaf litter or under rocks.  As you can see, you don’t have to do much to provide the proper habitat for the Green Lacewing, and you will be amply rewarded with a natural solution to your insect pest problem.

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