Beneficial garden insects like the
lacewing fly are either green (although sometime appear to give off a
blue hue), or are brown in color. Other than color distinction, there is
little difference with the exception that the brown color of the species
are slightly smaller in size.
They are most active at night and can quite often be seen hovering around electric light pole lights or the light on your garden porch. They do not bite or sting and are therefore harmless to people or pets.
Once they becomes an adult, for the most part their hunting habit for vegetable garden pests is limited. They mostly feed on flower nectar, pollen and honeydew (the sugary waste of aphids and other sap-sucking bugs). However, don't let that mislead you. Prior to reaching adulthood it's the lacewings juvenile children or larvae that eat the lions share of aphids, whiteflies, mealybugs, psyllids, leafhoppers, spider mites, thrips, moth eggs and other softbodied insects that invade your vegetable plants. Because aphids are more readily available than other pests, it is no wonder their larvae are aptly called aphid lions.
Scary! But you got to love them.
It's hard to believe this scary ugly looking creature is one of your vegetable plants best friends.
Yep! This is the larvae of a lacewing fly commonly called
aphid lion. If you spot one or many, leave them alone. Remember, they're the "good guys."
The picture above, is a lacewing larvae feasting on aphids.
The larvae shed their skin three times over a two week period. Because they don't defecate, they use their body waste to produce silk spun from their tail to make a cocoon. Inside the cocoon, the lacewing larvae will shed their skin a final time and become inactive. About three weeks later, or the following spring, what was once an ugly scary creature will emerge as a beautiful adult lacewing fly.
A final note to beginner gardeners about beneficial garden insects.
At some point in vegetable gardening, your plants will experience an invasion of garden pests. This is part of nature at work so don't take it personal wondering what you may have done wrong growing your crops.
I encourage you to take a hint from the organic gardener and spend some time getting to know and recognize beneficial garden insects that are so important to your crops.
Don't make the mistake of many a beginner gardener and rush out to your nearest hardware store and pick up a chemical fertilizer thinking it will solve all your pests' problems. Not only will it kill pests, it will also kill beneficial garden insects.
Insecticides will do the job to a degree but are manufactured for specific pests.
Those pests that are not affected by the insecticide will flourish because the insecticide you used also did a fine job killing the beneficial garden insects.
And besides ... Do you really want to eat crops sprayed with insecticide?
And now for our latest update.
Karen C from California writes "
I would just like to say that here, in California, the lacewing fly and larvae do inflict a very painful bite and some people, like myself, are allergic to them. I am very happy to hear that you have never been bittten and hope you never are! Blessings, Karen C."
Karen brings up a very good point. I myself will have a serious allergic reaction to the bumble bee.
So all you vegetable gardeners, know what you are allergic to regarding the good insects as well as the bad insects in your vegetable garden.
Thanks Karen for pointing out this important piece of information.
To read more about beneficial garden insects, you might want to read my article garden insects, where I've listed the good guys as well as the bad.
If you are a "Beginner Gardener," and you entered our website on this page, please read our article on "Beginner Gardening How to Grow Vegetables" for more information on how to grow a successful vegetable garden.
If you would like more information on the lacewing fly, please read this article from the University of Kentucky.
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