Beneficial Lacewings for the Garden


Many insects are beneficial insects and are friends for the garden. These predator insects eat pest insects that would otherwise destroy plants and the fruit and vegetables growing in the garden. Lacewings are but one of the beneficial insects.

Green lacewings are common in most of North America. Adults feed only on nectar, pollen, and aphid honeydew, but their larvae are active predators.

Adult green lacewings are pale green, about one-half to three-fourths inch long, with pale green wings, long antennae and bright, golden eyes. Females lay oval shaped, pale green eggs at the end of long silken stalks which turn gray in several days. The one half inch long larvae are yellowish-gray or brown, are very active, have well-developed legs and large pincers with which they use to suck the body fluids from prey.

They eat many common garden pests including several species of aphids, spider mites (especially red mites), thrips, whiteflies, eggs of leafhoppers, moths, leafminers, small caterpillars, beetle larvae, mealybugs, and the tobacco budworm.

Lacewing larvae eat almost as many aphids as do lady beetle larvae. Because of this the larvae are sometimes called aphid lions. Each lacewing larva will consume 200 or more pests or pest eggs a week during their two to three week growth period. The larvae then pupates by spinning a cocoon with silken thread. About five days later adult lacewings emerge to mate and repeat the life cycle. The adult will live about four to six weeks.

An adult female may deposit more than 200 eggs in a good habitat. Nectar, pollen, and honeydew is required for their reproduction. If these food sources are not available adults may disperse to where these requirements are met.

To introduce green lacewings into a garden start early in the season as soon as pest insects are detected. Release 1,000 eggs/200 sq. ft of garden area. Release them every ten to fifteen days until pests are no longer seen. And never use any pesticides or other synthetic chemical in the garden at this time.

Lacewings work well with other predator insects including Lady Bugs, Spider Mite Predators and Trichogamma.

As an added bonus, when adult lacewings visit flowers for nectar, they help pollinate plants increasing fruit, vegetable, and seed production.

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Author: Marilyn Pokorney
Freelance writer of science, nature, animals and the environment.
Also loves crafts, gardening, and reading.
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