Lacewing larvae are major pest predators and can bite even humans, but what about adults? Do adult lacewings bite? Let’s find out.
Lacewings are a very common insect found in North America. Their larvae are known to be voracious eaters that feed on soft-bodied insects, mainly harmful pests.
These larvae use their specialized mouthparts to bite the victim’s skin and inject venom, liquifying their insides and then sucking out all the liquids.
But what about adult lacewings? Do these bugs bite even after they grow up? We discuss adult lacewings in the article below.
Do Adult Lacewings Bite or Sting?
Yes, adult lacewings are capable of biting humans. While adults aren’t known for their big appetites like the younger versions of themselves, they nevertheless can bite humans if startled.
Adult lacewings can be either green or brown and mostly feed on flower nectar, pollen, and aphid honeydew. Only a few adult lacewings are insectivores.
But if they are in the vicinity of humans, they can bite when threatened or disturbed.
Several insects use humans as a food source, like mosquitoes or bedbugs. But lacewings are not parasitic.
Even when they are in their larval stage, they are predatory insects that eat smaller insects like aphids, thrips, and mites.
Does Their Bite Hurt?
Lacewing bites are generally harmless. They are neither poisonous nor painful. In the worst-case scenario, the bite may be irritating and itchy.
Lacewings don’t have teeth or something similar, so these bites are not actual bites. These are called bites only because of the pitching sensation they leave behind.
They use their sharp mouthparts to pinch the skin. This causes a little irritation to the bite area and maybe leave a rash but will not cause any potential long-term harm.
What Should You Do if You Get Bitten?
If you happen to be bitten by green lacewings or even green lacewing larvae, the first thing you will see is a red bump, similar to a mosquito bite.
The bite gets itchy and stays that way for some time. The itching sensation can stay between a few hours to a few days, but eventually, it will subside.
However, if you have an allergy to insects, you should be a little more careful. The allergic reaction can cause a bad rash and redness on the skin. In severe cases, it can also lead to nausea, vomiting, and anaphylactic shock.
If you feel like the bite is causing such reactions, make sure to seek medical attention immediately.
Do Adult Lacewings Have Mouth or Teeth?
Lacewing larvae and adult green lacewings both have a long, tubular, pincher structure on their mouths that they use to feed.
These bugs belong to an insect subgroup called Neuropterans, and their mouths are unique in the insect kingdom. Typically, insects either have mouths designed to chew or to pierce and then suck fluids.
Neuropterans have pinchers with hollow grooves on their insides. These pinchers are somewhat like hollow ice tongs used by ice cream trucks for picking up ice blocks.
This unique structure of their mouth is also the reason they cannot eat any kind of solid food.
Larvae use the pinchers to pierce the victim, and then the long hollow tube injects venom into their body, which liquefies their internal body parts. This makes it suitable for them to suck on.
Adult lacewings use the same method to suck out nectar from flowers.
Lacewing larvae are prolific eaters, so much so that they can eat up to 1,000 aphids in a day. Their voracious appetite for aphids has earned them the moniker of aphid lions.
If a human comes in contact with these insects, they pinch the skin and inject the saliva, but it’s not enough to be harmful to them. Except for causing irritation, it does not do any damage.
Are They Bloodsuckers?
Adult lacewings are not bloodsucking insects. They are known to feed on nectar, pollen, and honeydew.
In their larval stage, lacewings also like to prey on several insects, which is why they are popular as beneficial insects.
Lacewings feed on a variety of insects like aphids, mites, spider mites, thrips, and caterpillars, among a lot of others.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do lacewings bite humans?
Lacewings don’t bite humans on purpose. They might get startled or be defensive if they have laid eggs.
Sometimes you might scare them by accident. If you are obstructing them in their habitat, they may bite you.
Do lacewings have stingers?
No, lacewings are not insects with stingers or teeth. These insects have a unique mouth structure with overlapping mouthpieces that work like pinchers.
Inside their mouth, they have tubes that help them transmit venom and suck out juices from their food sources.
How do lacewings help humans?
Lacewings are very popular beneficial insects because they feed on many different pests. Green lacewing eggs are released into a lot of gardens when there is an aphid or thrip infestation.
All species of lacewing larvae feed on soft-bodied insects such as aphids, thrips, mites, and larvae of other bugs.
Can lacewings hurt you?
Lacewings will not bite humans on purpose. In case of a bite, you will only have a mild itch and redness on your skin before it subsides again.
These insects are not dangerous to humans, and the bites will not have any bad effect on human skin.
Lacewings are very popular insects in most gardens, especially their larvae, because they are effective pest predators.
Even though it is possible for you to get bit by lacewings, there is nothing to be worried about because, at best, the bite might cause a rash. You can probably suffer as much for a pest-free garden! Thank you for reading.
Though most sources mention that adult lacewings do not bite humans, some of our readers have experienced it first hand in the past, and this is why we have also written that these insects can bite if under threat.
Read below some of the mails from our older collection to know about the firsthand experience and how painful it was/wasn’t
Letter 1 – Lacewing
Hello again! Well I was in the middle of a rousing game of Settlers with my family when this little guy flew down, or droped down more like it, right infront of me. I thought it was sorta pretty with its lime green body and rainbow-seethrew wings. Can you identify it?
Thanks a ton!
This past Saturday night we were at a dinner party, and we told the host (who said he had ladybugs in his garden) that we prefer Lacewings as they eat more Aphids. This is a Lacewing, a Neuropteran sometimes commonly called a Golden Eye. They have ravenous appetites for aphids, both as larvae and adults, and they are a gardener’s friend. Lacewings are attracted to lights, hence your visit.
Letter 2 – Lacewing
I took this picture before I realized you already covered this bug ( Chrysoperla plorabunda?) on your site. I’m sending it anyway since you didn’t have a good clear shot of this bug. Keep up the good work.
Thanks so much John,
We really appreciate your excellent photo which reveals why these lovely creatures are sometimes called Golden Eyes. We also just posted a photo of an Aphid Lion, the nymph stage of the Lacewing.
Letter 3 – San Francisco Lacewing
Sluggish insect near pond June 13, 2010 Saw this guy on a blade of grass, near a small pond, on 4/11/2009. 1/2 inch or more, I think. Didn’t move at all. Came back later and it was gone. Is this a lacewing? Dave Mountains between San Jose and Santa Cruz CA Dear Dave, First we want to congratulate you on a wonderful photograph, and we want to acknowledge your skill with the suspected identity of this creature. It is a Lacewing, but a species that we were totally unfamiliar with. We quickly identified the San Francisco Lacewing, Nothochrysa californica, by matching your superior photo to the few images posted to BugGuide for this species.
Letter 4 – Lacewing
Hi, 🙂 Location: Lomas de Zamora, Buenos Aires, Argentina March 2, 2011 11:02 am Hi, im from Argentina. I’ve found this insect, and i want to know what is it. thank you :)and i hope you can help me. It’s green, has 4 wings, 2 antennas of the same size as the body which is about 1 centimeter. and it has 2 small black eyes on the sides of its head. Signature: Luli Hi Luli, This lovely little beauty is an important predatory species known as a Lacewing. They help control Aphid populations. Some species have gold eyes and they are known as Goldeneyes.
Letter 5 – Lacewing
Green Bug Location: California December 7, 2011 12:06 am Hey just found this bug on my wall. Couldn’t find anything on it, first thought it was a fly then a dragonfly but noticed it had long antenna which I didn’t see on other dragonfly pictures. completely stumped on this one. Signature: Chris Hi Chris, This is a Green Lacewing and it is sometimes called a Goldeneye. This is a common beneficial insect that consumes large quantities of aphids as both a larva and an adult. Adults are frequently attracted to lights.
Letter 6 – Pied Lacewing from Australia
Possible alderfly Location: Australia, South Australia, Mount Gambier April 9, 2012 1:55 am Hello again! I found this insect a few times at school(there were heaps, i counted 31) and i found two at a local park so i chaught them to take a better look at. one is a feamale, i know this because she laid 8 eggs(in 2 days.) she has a weird fold up *oviposetor?(is that how you spell it.) I looked them up in a book of australian wildlife and found something like it. it was called an alderfly, i read about them and found out about their aquatic life cycle, but the park is nowhere neer a pond or anything. They look very prety and i would like to find out just what they are!(i will realese the eggs soon,the weather wont let me outside sadly.) thanks again and i hope you can help me! Signature: Liam Hi Liam, We have identified your insect as a Pied Lacewing, Porismus strigatus, on the Brisbane Insect Website and we learned: “Their larvae are long and slender, with elongated spear-like jaws, hunt under bark. Their eggs are not stalked. ” Lacewings belong to the insect order Neuroptera, and many members of the order lay eggs on stalks, so this mention is significant. We then verified the identification on the Encyclopedia of Life website. Your incorrect identification is perfectly understandable. Alderflies are classified with Dobsonflies in the order Megaloptera, but there was a time when they were classified with Lacewings and Antlions in the order Neuroptera. They are closely related orders. Ovipositor is the correct spelling.
Letter 7 – Beaded Lacewing attends Moth Night
Location: Elyria Canyon Park, Mt Washington, Los Angeles, CA July 21, 2012 This Lacewing was attracted to the black light set up by Julian Donahue in Elyria Canyon Park. We believe it is a Beaded Lacewing in the family Berothidae based on photos posted to BugGuide. Julian Donahue provides his photograph Indeed, it is a berothid (Neuroptera: Berothidae), in the genus Lomamyia, of which there are about 10 species in North America. I knew it looked peculiar for a brown lacewing, and I’ve seen them before, but just couldn’t remember the name. Photo attached. Julian
Letter 8 – Lacewing
Subject: Question on bug Location: clallam county, Washington February 18, 2014 4:13 pm Hello I live in Northwest Washington State and I was curious about a bug I found my indoor or tomato garden on top of the soil. It was dead but im very curious onwhat it is. Signature: Hi This is a beneficial, predatory Lacewing.
Letter 9 – Lacewing
Subject: Can you identify this insect? Location: Hardin County Kentucky March 17, 2014 5:18 pm I found this insect on my kitchen window on March 17 in Hardin Co., Kentucky. Can you identify what this is and please tell me it isn’t a termite? Signature: Thank You Though it does not do much good in the home, this Lacewing is a highly beneficial insect in the garden where it will consume large quantities of undesirable insects like Aphids.
Letter 10 – Lacewing
Subject: What’s that bug, Dallas, TX Location: Carrollton, TX February 12, 2015 5:26 pm Hello bug enthusiast, me and my daughter caught this one on the mirror at home, it appears to have 6 legs, lacy wings, not overlapping when crawling, and antennas that are pretty long. The color is beige I guess. It’s middle february here is Dallas, Texas, and starting to get warm, pre-spring. It’s small, only the length of a finger width. Thank you, Anette Signature: Anette and Sofia Dear Anette and Sofia, This is a predatory Lacewing (you got that description correct) and they are beneficial as both winged adults and larvae consume large quantities of Aphids and other small insects. Some folks who are sensitive complain about receiving bites from both adults and larvae, and though there may be an itchy reaction, the bite is not considered dangerous. Lacewings are often attracted to lights.