Backyard Buddies
Lacewings

Photo: Mathias Krumbholz

Lacewings

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Some bugs are not only good bugs but great bugs that will eat other insects and keep your overall pest numbers down. Such a buddy is the Green Lacewing.

This fascinating insect is as helpful as it is pretty. The larva of the Green Lacewing is a very efficient method of bug control for your garden, and they grow into delicate, winged beauties. Their vivid green colour and distinctive wings make them easy to spot.

October is a great time to start noticing the little creatures working away in your garden. With the blooming flowers and warm weather, you're almost sure to spot the Green Lacewing. The Green Lacewing is one of the most common native lacewings in Australia and can be found in most states and territories in spring and summer.

Green Lacewings measure between 1.5 to 2.5 cm in length and are a vivid, almost neon green. Their four wings are longer than their body and indeed look lacy. They are transparent, with more vertical than horizontal veins. If you get close to one, make sure you note their long antennae and their golden, metallic eyes. The eyes give them their other name of Golden Eyes.

The larvae of the Green Lacewing have earned them a reputation as excellent natural pest control. Adult females will lay up to 600 eggs in their three to four week lifespan. The eggs are elevated on thin stalks, which act as protection from ants. They hatch after four days and set to work, using the small spines on their back to impale their prey.

The Green Lacewing larvae are not fussy. They will eat almost any small insects or eggs. Some of the particular bugs they go after include the Two-spotted Mite, the Greenhouse Whitefly, various species of scales and mealy bug and moth eggs. The lacewing is especially effective when it comes to aphids, and can eat up to 60 in an hour.

Lacewing larvae will feed for two to three weeks, then spin a silken cocoon and pupate. After nine days, an adult Green Lacewing emerges to start the cycle all over again.

Nectar and pollen will help encourage Lacewings into your garden. Make sure you have many nectar-rich flowering plants in your patch. Another good tip is to have a good mixture of plants, as this is a good way to ensure an alternative food source for the Green Lacewing if bugs are running low.

To see Green Lacewings in the garden and enjoy their free bug control service, you need to have bugs around. Avoid using chemicals in your garden and let the bugs be bugs and eat each other.

Did you know? 

Green Lacewing larvae use the remains of their prey as camouflage. This clever method of disguise means that their prey don't see them coming, but it also makes Green Lacewing larvae spotting more difficult for us. A good tip for those of you with keen eyes is to look for the fast-moving one, as the larvae will move more quickly than its prey.

Lacewings frequently lay their eggs in a U-shape on the underside of a leaf. They deposit eggs on the tip of hair-like stalks, possibly to keep them safe from predators.

Tip

Don't be alarmed if you see a Green Lacewing indoors at night. They are attracted to light and will often fly in your door or window on warm summer evenings. Usher them out gently or open a nearby door or window and let them find their own way out.

 

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”Protecting & safeguarding Australia’s wilderness & wildlife is important for the health and enjoyment for our future generations, thanks FNPW for your support of our project.“

Dr Ricky Spencer – Lead Scientist Murray River Turtle Project, NSW

Photo: OEH