Green Lacewing

Green lacewings — scientifically known as the Chrysoperla rufilabris — are aggressive aphid predators that have an appetite for other soft-bodied pests as well.

Lacewing larvae are tiny when emerging from its egg, but grow to 3/8 of an inch long. They are often referred to as aphid lions since they voraciously attack aphids by seizing them with large, sucking jaws and inject a venom that paralyzes it’s prey. The hollow jaws then draw out the body fluids of the pest, of course, killing it. Of all available commercial predators, this lacewing is the most voracious and has the greatest versatility for aphid control in field crops, orchards, and greenhouses.

Each green lacewing larva will devour 200 or more pests or pest eggs a week during their two to three week developmental period. After this stage, the larvae pupate by spinning a cocoon with silken thread. Approximately five days later adult lacewings emerge to mate and repeat the life cycle. Depending on climatic conditions, the adult will live about four to six weeks.

Ric Bessin an Extension Entomologist at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture says,

Green lacewings are an often under-appreciated group of beneficial insects. As with lady beetles, these natural enemies are important predators of many types of soft bodied insects and insect eggs. These insects are common in the spring summer and fall and their contribution to insect control is immense.

The adult green lacewing is about 3/4 inch long, light green and has a delicate appearance with lacy wings. One unusual characteristic are its eyes, they look like two golden hemispheres. They are weak fliers and are commonly found near aphid colonies. The adults feed mostly on nectar, pollen, and honeydew but with some species the adults will feed on insects.

Preferred Food of the Green Lacewing:

aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, leafhopper nymphs, caterpillar eggs, scales, thrips, and whiteflies.
(Chrysopa carneca) For greenhouse, garden or orchard. The larva feeds on many soft bodied insects including aphids, red spider mites, thrips, mealybugs, moth eggs, leafhoppers, and others. Very small and gray-brown in color. The larva feeds for two or three weeks when it then pupates.

The adult emerges one week later to feed on nectar, pollen, or honeydew. If there is food for the adults then the life cycle will be repeated. If there is not, then new larva releases will need to be made every three weeks. 1,000 per 500 sq. ft. 5,000 per acre.

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The adults eat only honey, pollen, and nectar, which they need to reproduce. Repeated releases may be necessary if the infestation has not been arrested 5-7 days after the larvae have emerged.

I found a very VERY cool site with the entire Lacewing Life Cycle if you’d like to know more.

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