Sunday, September 6, 2009

Green Lacewings!

Can you see it?

See it now?

It's a green lacewing egg! One tiny, singular egg, but still reproduction among the lacewings is going on.

I'm not sure if this lacewing egg comes from completely natural means or from an eggs/larvae I ordered months ago from Gardens Alive that I released.  Either way I'm just excited about this egg, though puzzled too because it's the second or third lacewing egg on a tomato fruit, which is not the best place for a lacewing egg to be, for me at least, because if a fruit is ripe, I need to eat it egg or not.

Lacewings are one of the best beneficial insects to have the garden.  As with many of the beneficial insects, the adults dine on flower pollen and nectar as well as aphid honeydew (a sticky-sweet secretion aphids exude).

It is their predaceous, voracious larvae, also known as "aphid lions" that make quick use of soft bodied pests such as mites, aphids,  mealybugs, thrips, beetle larvae, leafhoppers,  and certain caterpillars.  They dispatch their prey using long mandible jaws which hold their food and then inject a paralyzing venom into the prey which they will then suck the fluids from.  Whee, slurpies!

As female lacewings are rather reproductive, with hundreds of eggs laid a season to equate to potentially 2-6 generations during the growing season (depending if you have a mild winter or not)  with larvae overwintering in small crevices in the ground if it gets cold in your location.

Lacewings do particularly well in high humidity, so they are great in greenhouses, if only I had one :( or in southeastern United States, where I am, yea!

Unfortunately the adult lacewings are most active at night, when I am rarely in the garden, but you can identify them (in pics from the following links) and by their on average 18mm long selves with pale green lace-like wings and golden large eyes.

Larvae are reminiscent of ladybug larvae, like little yellow and brown alligators vs the red and black ones of the lady beetles.

Give adult lacewings a safe dry place to stay by cutting off the bottom of a 2 liter plastic bottle, loosely roll a piece of corrugated cardboard inside, but taut enough to stay in the bottle without falling out and cutting off any extraneous that sticks out from cut bottom.  This provides many crevices for adult lacewings to hide in.  Hang the bottle by the small mouth near a covered location like your eaves or a tree/bushes.