Green Lacewings: Natural Pest Control

Imagine a garden teeming with vibrant flowers and lush foliage without the need for harsh chemicals or synthetic pesticides to keep pests at bay. Welcome to the world of natural pest control, where green lacewings surpass the well-known ladybug (technically “lady beetle”) in terms of their pest control abilities.

These delicate creatures, with their lacy wings and fascinating life cycle, are hugely beneficial as natural predators. They don’t bite or sting, which makes them an even more appealing beneficial insect.

Identification of Green Lacewings

When it comes to identifying adult green lacewings, their delicate beauty sets them apart. With finely-veined transparent wings that resemble intricate lacework, they grace our gardens with their presence.

Adult lacewings are pale green in color, and generally less than an inch long. They don’t fly particularly well, and are often found near aphid infestations, where they lay their eggs.

Lacewing larvae could be confused with lady beetle larvae, although there are distinct differences.

Life Cycle and Behaviour

During her short lifespan of about 4 weeks, a female lacewing will lay several hundred eggs.

If you discover tiny eggs hanging on fine threads from leaves or stalks, they’re green lacewing eggs! The reason they are laid on separate threads is so that when the larvae hatch, they don’t immediately eat their brothers and sisters. What an amazing design!

Eggs hatch 3-10 days after being laid. The larvae will feed voraciously for about 2 weeks, at which point they pupate in the soil for about another two weeks.

Finally, an adult lacewing will emerge.

Check out this amazing photographic journey of green lacewing eggs and subsequent hatching of larvae by Vipin Baliga.

What Pests Do Green Lacewings Eat?

Green Lacewing larvae are very tiny initially, but they’re born with a voracious appetite and will immediately begin to feed on aphids, mealybugs, scale, whiteflies, thrips, and more.

Interestingly, the predatory stage is only during the larva stage! Once lacewings are adults, they feed solely on nectar, pollen, and honeydew (secretions from aphids).

How to Attract Green Lacewings to Your Yard

To attract more Green Lacewings, plant plentiful native flowers such as asters and yarrow, as well as herbs such as dill.

Leave aphid infestations alone if they aren’t causing too great damage, because that is what attracts beneficial insects such as the lacewing and also the lady beetle.

Why would you want to focus on attracting lacewings to your yard? To avoid the use of pesticides, mainly!

Adult lacewings overwinter in leaf litter at the edges of gardens and under trees etc. Another reason why not to clean up your leaves in the fall!

In Conclusion

Last summer, there was a period of time where we had many adult lacewings in our yard. I’m hopeful that we’ll see many of them this year as well!

It’s finally (finally!) looking like spring here, and I’m just itching to get dirt on my shirt! Ha. Actually, I was out doing some hand weeding this morning. In my excitement, I forgot to put on gloves and now I’ve got mud and dirt and a little sap in all the cracks and crevices of my hands and nails…anyone else do this??

Happy Gardening!