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What is a lacewing?

Lacewing is the common name for several species of insect characterised by four transparent, many-veined wings which fold in an arch above the back when at rest.

The most abundant are the green lacewings, also known as the golden-eyed flies, with a wingspan of about 2.5cm (about 1 inch).  Others include the brown lacewings, the pleasing lacewings, the beaded lacewings, and rarest of all, the giant lacewing which has a wingspan of 7.5cm (3 inch).  Some lacewings are also known as ‘stink flies’ as they emit a disagreeable odour as a defence.Lacewings

What is the life cycle of a lacewing?

Adult female green lacewings lay eggs on the tips of long silken stalks spun on leaves or the stems of plants. This prevents the first larvae hatched from eating the other eggs.

Lacewings are voracious predators of aphids making them a very beneficial insect to have in the garden – this is where Wildlife World lacewing habitats are a valuable tool to boost lacewing numbers and provide natural pest control without the need to use harmful chemicals.

Commonly called aphid lions because they feed on plant lice (among other insects), the larvae camouflage themselves with bits of leaves and twigs to get near their prey. Most strikingly, they evade guardian ants, which “herd” aphids for their sweet secretions by removing some of the fluffy wax that coats the aphid’s body and placing it on their own backs.

In two or three weeks the larvae spin cocoons and enters the pupal stage, from which adults emerge by chewing their way out of the cocoons.

Scientific classification

Lacewings belong to the order Neuroptera. Green lacewings make up the family Chrysopidae. Brown lacewings make up the family Hemerobiidae. Pleasing lacewings make up the family Dilaridae. The beaded lacewings make up the family Berothidae. Rare giant lacewings make up the family Polystoechotidae.

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