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Insect week: Lacewings

Updated: Jun 30

This week the Royal Entomological Society celebrates the small creatures that keep the world going. Supported by partner organisations throughout the UK and Europe, it is possible to get involved in insect science wherever you are. Wherever you live, it’s an opportunity to take part in insect science, get to know insects, learn from experts, and have fun.


This week, I would like to celebrate the insects that play an often-overlooked role in keeping our crops healthy by focusing on key insects in agriculture.


Today, we celebrate Lacewings!


This insect may be a surprising addition to this list of useful bugs for some people. I personally see these bugs everywhere, but I never knew what they were called- in fact, I assumed that they were a type of aphid, but I couldn’t be more wrong. They are delicate-looking insects with a wingspan of up to 65mm. Their wings, which are conspicuously large in comparison to their bodies, are translucent, slightly iridescent, and are their most identifiable feature.


Adult Lacewings feed on pollen, nectar and honey dew, supplemented with aphids and other small insects. Some species, such as Chrysopa, are almost entirely predatory. Though it varies between species and environment, some Lacewings can eat over 100 aphids in a single week. It is for that reason that these predatory species are often sold as a biological control method in agriculture and gardening. However, if you don’t feel like paying, you can also attract them to your garden by growing certain types of plants, for example, cosmos, sunflowers, dandelions and dill, are all plants known to attract Lacewings.


More fun facts about lacewings:

  • There is evidence that some species of lacewing are able to hear ultrasonic bat calls and make evasive moves in response to these sounds

  • Lacewings lay their eggs at night, 100-200 at a time. Each egg is hung on a slender stalk about 1cm long away from the underside of the leaf. Large numbers of aphids can usually be found nearby.

  • Larvae may occasionally bite humans. Though it is unclear if this is out of aggression or if they’re just a bit peckish. It is for this reason that they are sometimes known as ‘aphid lions.’

  • ‘Stinkflies’ is a less than flattering name sometimes used for Chrysopa, due to their ability to release a disgusting smell when handled.

  • Lacewings also use body vibrations as a form of communication during courtship. It is often easier to tell similar looking species apart by observing these mating signal instead.


Come back tomorrow to learn about another important critter!


If you are interested in learning about how you can support the survival of these important insect species please check out the resources available at: https://www.insectweek.org/


If you would like to learn more:

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