Adult Lacewings and Biting: What You Need to Know

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

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.

Do Adult Lacewings Bite

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.

Do Adult Lacewings Bite

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.

Do Adult Lacewings Bite

Wrap Up

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.

Reader Emails

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

 

Uknown Bug
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!
Kyle C

Hi Kyle,
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.
John Waters

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

San Francisco Lacewing

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

Lacewing

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

Green Lacewing

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

Pied Lacewing

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.

Pied Lacewing

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.

Beaded Lacewing

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

Beaded Lacewing

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

Lacewing
Lacewing

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

Brown Lacewing
Brown Lacewing

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

Lacewing
Lacewing

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.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

2 thoughts on “Adult Lacewings and Biting: What You Need to Know”

  1. yeah, i got bit by one once while dong yard work. Had a dream this afternoon, in which there was a wall covered in them. I go on the internet and learn all this! Now I know what they’re called and how to finally destroy the aphids.

    Reply
  2. Hi, I am in Twin Falls County, Idaho. We have many lacewings around the outside of the house and sometimes in the garage. My father, a former farmer, said they were beneficial so we have let them be. So happy to read they are pollinators.

    I was sitting outside in the evening in early September, the weather still warm and dry, and felt what seemed to be a mosquito bite. When I looked down, It was a lacewing. I would like to point out that I couldn’t have frightened it because I was passively sitting. It was dark but there were small lights illuminating the area. I mentioned they have been found in the garage so perhaps they are attracted to lights at night.

    Reply

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