Not Only a Good Bug but a GREAT Bug!
Many people don't like creepy crawlies for one reason or another. But did you know that some bugs are not only good bugs but great bugs that will actually eat up other insects and keep your overall bug numbers down? Such a buddy is the Green Lacewing.
This fascinating insect is as helpful as it is pretty. The larvae 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. So if you see a little green spot moving through your garden this month, don't fret. Rejoice!
October is a great time to start paying attention to your garden and the little creatures working away in it. 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 areas in spring and summer.
How do you know if you're looking at a Green Lacewing? The answer is in their name. They 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 also give them their other name of Golden Eyes.
The larvae of the Green Lacewing are what earn them their reputation as an 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 picky. It 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 mealybug 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, after which time they will spin a silken cocoon and pupate. After nine days, an adult Green Lacewing emerges to start the cycle all over again.
Nectar and pollen are sure to keep the Green Lacewings doing good deeds around your garden. To encourage this buddy, make sure you have many nectar-rich flowering plants in your patch. Another good tip is to make sure you 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 munching 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.
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 just let them find their own way out.
In the cool of the late spring evening, with the smell of recent rain rising from the earth, don’t be surprised to see a delicate fairy flutter by. Its gauzy wings look far too fragile to carry the weight of anything, even the soft slim body beneath. But as it alights delicately on a leaf, the wings fold back to reveal not a mythical creature but a green lacewing, the delicate distant relative to the dragonfly.
But their fragility as adults belies the lacewing’s terrifying manifestation as larvae. Unlike the nectar sipping, airborne adult, the juvenile lacewing is a stumpy, leaf-bound creature which pursues its prey with all the cunning of a lion. Aphids are a popular choice, which the lacewing larvae grasps in its enormous jaws before devouring the hapless creature.
Predacious by nature, the larvae of some lacewings even go so far as to cover themselves with debris such as bits of leaf or tiny blossoms. This well camouflaged walking pile of rubbish sneaks up on its prey. Click here to see.
If the juvenile green lacewing isn’t scary enough, its cousin, the antlion, is the stuff of nightmares (both are in the order Neuroptera). Again the larva of a flying adult insect, the antlion digs a lethal cone shaped pit in soft dry sand and then lurks at the bottom. An unsuspecting ant, wandering along in search of a juicy seed can easily stumble into this pit. At the bottom it tries to climb out but slides again and again back down to the bottom as the loose grains of sand fall away beneath even its sticky feet. Alerted by the movement above, the antlion bursts out from its hiding place beneath a thin layer of sand and devours the ant with its huge jaws.
DID YOU KNOW?
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.
Leave your outside lights on at night to attract lacewings. You can observe their beauty from inside the window, without worrying they might fly into your eyes or hair.