Lacewing Life Cycle: How Long Do Lacewings Live?

Lacewings are beautiful insects, but do you know how they grow up to this stage? Learn all about their lives from the egg to the adult stage in the article below.

Lacewings are a member of the Neuroptera family of insects. They are known for their beautiful netted wings and golden eyes.

They are classified into two families: green and brown. Both follow a similar life cycle and can complete several generations in one year.

Their eggs hatch into soft-bodied larvae. The larvae then develop through 3 instar stages and then pupate.

Finally, adult winged lacewings emerge out of pupae to continue the process of reproduction. Let’s learn more about the life cycle of these unique and beneficial insects.

Lacewing Life Cycle

Green Lacewing Life Cycle

Green lacewings complete their entire life cycle in just four to six weeks. These lacewings are mostly found near trees, crops, and forest covers.

They remain active throughout the year except for the cold season and can form several generations in one year.

Egg

The female green lacewings lay 100 to 300 eggs in one season. They prefer to lay their eggs on flat surfaces such as walls.

Lacewing eggs can grow in almost any place except those that see extremely harsh winters. In such places, lacewing larvae or pupae overwinter to survive the cold.

A unique thing about lacewings is that they don’t simply lay eggs on the ground. They attach them to a small stalk which supports them slightly away from the surface.

This is a kind of defense mechanism that protects them from predators such as ants. It also stops them from cannibalizing each other.

In about four to five days, the eggs hatch, and the larvae slowly move their soft body out of the eggshell.

Larva

The larvae have a soft exoskeleton immediately after being hatched. They remain near the eggshells and show little activity for almost an hour.

Lacewing larvae look like tiny alligators. They are brown or creamy white and have sickle-shaped mandibles in the front.

Once their exoskeleton hardens, they start moving and spread out in search of food.

Lacewing larvae are voracious eaters. They feed on insects like aphids, spider mites, mealybugs, moth eggs, leafhopper nymphs, whiteflies, and thrips.

The larva can eat as many as 1,000 aphids during their short 2-3 week lifespan. Their penchant for eating aphids has earned them the name “aphid lions.”

The larvae feed like crazy and keep growing through three instar stages, finally becoming ready to pupate. They can grow up to about ½ an inch.

Lacewing Life Cycle

Pupa

Green lacewings mainly survive through winter as pupae (known as overwintering). They form silken cocoons around their bodies and become inactive.

Typically, lacewings pupate on host plants or places that have lots of food for them when they emerge. Lacewings undergo three stages of metamorphosis.

At the end of each step, the instar becomes bigger and develops sturdier wings.

Adult

The lacewing larvae remain in their cocoon for 5 to 7 days, during which they develop wings and reproductive organs.

They emerge out of the cocoon fully formed and again enter the cycle of mating and reproduction.

Adult green lacewings measure up to 1/2 inch and usually feed on pollen and nectar from flowers.

Lacewing Life Cycle

Brown Lacewing Life Cycle

Brown lacewings undergo several stages of development to form adult lacewings. Their life cycle moves from egg to larvae to pupae, and finally, adult forms.

Egg

Female Brown lacewings lay around 600 eggs in their lifetime.

These insects lay eggs near colonies of their prey, which mostly includes pests like aphids, mealworms, and mites. This way, the young larvae would not have to go far in search of food.

Sometimes, they also lay eggs on plants, bugs, leaves, and fleshy stems. Unlike green lacewings, their eggs are placed directly on the surface without a stalk.

The eggs are oval-shaped and about 1/25th of an inch in size. In most cases, the eggs would be white, pink, or gray. They hatch within three to five days.

Larva

The brown lacewing larvae come out from the soft-shelled eggs within a few days of laying. They have a soft endoskeleton which eventually hardens with time.

These larvae are 1/3rd of an inch long, and it is hard to differentiate between green and brown lacewings at the larval stage.

The larva passes through three instars or development stages before starting to form pupae.

Pupa

Brown lacewings form silken pupae under loose bark or into crevices of trees. The insect is partially visible inside the cocoon. Their shape is either spherical or oblong.

During pupation, these insects develop sturdy and intricate wings and organs of reproduction. Being in the pupa form helps the lacewing to overwinter through the cold days of the year.

Adult

Adult brown lacewings measure up to half an inch and have beautiful wings. You can easily find them in areas rich in shrubs, such as gardens, fields, crop fields, etc.

They have a delicate body with soft antennae, golden eyes, and wings that have yellow to brownish coloration.

Lacewing Life Cycle

Differences Between Green and Brown Lacewings

Both the lacewings belong to the same order. Still, they are two separate families with few similar features. Still, they vary widely in appearance, egg-laying, and typical characteristics.

Appearance

Green and Brown Lacewings cannot always be easily differentiated from one another purely based on the primary colors.

Green lacewings possess two pairs of wings, narrow bodies, and big rounded eyes. On the other hand, brown lacewing looks grey to brown in color and has a hairy body. You might mistake brown lacewings for moths as they appear similar from a distance.

Their larvae also resemble each other. However, there are two differences: the brown lacewing larva has a longer prothorax (neck).

Under a microscope, you can check that brown lacewings have short and stock empodia attached to their legs, whereas green lacewings have long and cylindrical ones.

Food source

Green lacewings mainly depend on pollen and nectar from plants and honeydew from insects such as aphids. However, they don’t eat pests directly.

On the other hand, brown lacewings mainly feed on insects such as aphids and other potential pests and are used as biological control. Hence, brown lacewings are considered beneficial insects.

Eggs

Green lacewings lay eggs attached to a surface through a slender stalk, while brown lacewings lay hundreds of eggs directly on the surface.

Brown lacewings can lay as many as three times the number of eggs as green ones.

The green lacewings larvae voraciously eat aphids. Once they become adults, they prefer honeydew, nectar, and pollen.

But brown lacewings are predator insects in both larvae form and adult form.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do green lacewings live?

Green lacewings complete their life cycle within 4 to 6 weeks. They can grow from an egg into adult form bearing wings and reproductive organs within just four weeks.
Their life span is around 20 to 40 days in warmer areas.

Where do lacewings lay their eggs?

Green lacewings lay eggs in plants or on surfaces such as high up on the walls.
Brown lacewings mainly lay eggs on plant bodies near their leaves, bug, loose bark, field crops, and succulent parts of plants.
Green lacewings lay eggs on a stalk, while brown ones directly lay on the plant’s surface.

Do lacewings bite humans?

Yes, both the brown lacewing larva and green lacewing larva can bite humans. The bite does not result in any major problems and might cause mild skin irritation.
So, you might want to bear with the itch if you want to bring these insects home as beneficial insects for pest control.

Do lacewings eat ladybugs?

No, lacewings are not predators of ladybugs, and ladybugs, too, do not feed on lacewings. Both can easily coexist.
Additionally, both serve as beneficial insects in controlling nuisance pests such as aphids. However, not all beneficial insects are like this.
For example, assassin bugs will eat both ladybugs and lacewings while also feeding on aphids and mites.

Wrap Up

Lacewing larvae are voracious eaters and feed on small insects such as aphids which are known to be difficult pests on plants and indoor gardens.

You can use insect eggs or larvae to control pests in your garden. Knowing about their lifecycle helps you understand how long these insects will stay in your garden and when they will emerge again after the winter.

Thank you for reading!

Reader Emails

In the past, many readers have shared their experiences of breeding lacewings or buying their eggs and releasing them in their gardens later. Below is a collection of mails from our readers showing the various stages of the lifecycle of these bugs. Do go through!

Letter 1 – Lacewing Larva

 

please help
I have been trying to find out what kind of bug this is and can’t find a picture that matches up exactly! Please let me know what you think!
Thanks, Angel



Hi Angel,
This is a larval Lacewing. They are beneficial insects that prey on Aphids in both their larval and adult winged forms.

Letter 2 – Lacewing Larva: AphidLion

 

HUGE FANGS!!
Hi Daniel,
This little guy was only 3mm or 4mm long and his fangs are huge for his size. And I think he may have bit me. What is this thing? Thanks for your help. Im really worried because I have bite marks all over my legs and they itch!
Danny



Hi Danny,
This is a Lacewing Larva or Aphidlion. They are sometimes called an Aphid Wolves, a common name also shared with Ladybird Beetle Larvae. Though we do not want to claim you cannot get bitten by a Lacewing Larva, there would be no ill effect. They are beneficial insects, both as larvae and adults, and they consume vast quantities of aphids and other insects injurious to plants.

Letter 3 – Lacewing Larva: Aphidlion

 

Texas biting bug Thu, Apr 9, 2009 at 9:37 AM Hi, I live in Austin, TX and am getting terrible bug bites in my yard mostly. It is a tiny black and white bug with a tail that tapers down to a point. Eventhough I have been bitten many times I have only seen 2 and they were smaller than a pencil eraser. It has kind of a flat body and the triangular tail points up when I squish it. I felt a prick when it bit me but the bite didn’t start itching until the next day. The bites last a couple of days with a small knot under the skin. Any ideas as to what this thing is? The one in the picture was the size of a lighter flint. Candice Austin, TX
Aphidlion
Aphidlion
Hi Candice, We have received reports in the past of people being bitten by Aphidlions, the larvae of Lacewings. Lacewings are actually beneficial insects that prey upon Aphids, that scourge of many a home gardener. Though the bite may be unpleasant, there is no real harm. BugGuide has numerous images and more information.

Letter 4 – Lacewing Larva

 

Walking Lichen? Brown Lacewing Larva? March 21, 2010 March 21, 2010 at Winterthur Museum in Wilmington., DE. A approximate 3/8″ piece of lichen was walking on a 5/8″ wroungt iron railing. Brown Lacewing Larva? Please use image for the site if helpful. Sober, really, Joe Wilmington, DE
Brown Lacewing Larva
Dear Sober Joe, You are not seeing pink elephants nor walking lichen, but a Camouflaged Brown Lacewing Larva as you speculated.  We are posting your photo.

Letter 5 – Lacewing Larva

 

Help!! April 10, 2010 my friend got bit by this bug yesterday and it blistered? what is this bug? ?? Anaheim Ca
Lacewing Larva
This is a Lacewing Larva, and we have gotten reports in the past from people who have been bitten, but the bite is not a serious matter, an your account is the first we have received that indicated a skin reaction.  Beneficial Lacewings are very important predators that help control Aphid populations.  Lacewings are often sold by nurseries that cater to people who want to do pesticide free, organic gardening.

Letter 6 – Lacewing Larva

 

The Hermit Location:  Austin, TX August 2, 2010 12:59 pm Not sure what this bug is but I’ve seen them a couple of times. They’re tiny and the stuff on it’s back is carcasses/carapaces of dead bugs. It’s like a hobo carrying around it’s home. These shots were taken at almost 5x magnification with a 35mm Canon 5D. The bug’s head is out and visible in both shots. It’s hard to make out which parts are the bugs and which parts are detritus being carried along. Steve
Lacewing Larva
Hi Steve, You excellent photos of a Lacewing Larva should help our readership to identify this formidable predatory that camouflages itself with the carcasses of its prey.
Lacewing Larva

Letter 7 – Lacewing Larva from Australia

 

What’s this freaky thing? Location:  Queensland, Australia September 13, 2010 10:16 pm Hi guys, Can you give me any idea on what this little critter is? Not the big dark bit that appears to be the remains of an ant head but the little shrimp like creature underneath that has attached it to its back like some sort of hermit crab. It also appears to have pincers similar to an ant lion. Is it possibly something along the lines of a lacewing nymph? It is minute, hardly visible under its load. Help! Signature:  aussietrev
Lacewing Larva
Hi Trevor, We haven’t begun to try to research your species on the Australian insect websites, but we are certain that this is the larva of a Lacewing, many of which carry about shelters constructed from the carcasses of their victims.  Here is a link to some North American debris carrying Lacewing Larvae on BugGuide.  The Brisbane Insect website has a page on Green Lacewings in the family Chrysopidae that includes a photo of a debris carrying Lacewing Larva.  In North America, these larvae are sometimes called Aphid Wolves.
Lacewing Larva

Letter 8 – Lacewing Larva

 

This bug Location:  Eastern, North Carolina October 19, 2010 6:46 pm High bugman, believe it or not I got bitten by this little fellow, or at least one of his brethren a couple of times. I saw this one about a week later and took this picture with my phone, I have no idea what it is, I hope this picture is clear enough. Signature:  Once Bitten
Lacewing Larva
Dear Once Bitten, Though you have been bitten by a Lacewing Larva, you did not indicate if it was painful or if there was any sort of reaction, which we cannot imagine.  The larvae of Lacewings are predatory insects sometimes called Aphid Wolves and they are very beneficial in the garden.  Yours is not the first report we have received of a person getting bitten, but we should stress that this creature is perfectly harmless to humans and pets.

Letter 9 – Lacewing Larva

 

STRANGE little bug Location: Big South Fork, Tennessee….on a rock overlook November 27, 2010 1:07 am I’ve a couple local bug experts try to identify this little guy and they are stumped. I took this picture of this bug crawling along on a sunny morning after a cool night around freezing temps in the month of October in Tennessee in the Big South Fork. If you zoom up on it, you’ll just see a mix of organic, strange looking shapes that don’t seems to show anything recognizable. Belive me, it was a bug crawling along. It was very small at a quarter inch or less in size. Signature: maxpatch67
Lacewing Larva
Hi maxpatch67, This is the larva of a Lacewing, sometimes called an Aphid Wolf.  Many predatory Lacewing Larvae cover themselves with debris, including the carcasses of prey, to help protect and camouflage themselves.  If you look closely on the left side of the the creature, you can make out its mandibles protruding from beneath the cover of debris.

Letter 10 – Neuropteran Larva: Antlion or Lacewing???

 

What is this strange creature Location: Nowra NSW, Australia March 17, 2011 7:16 am This funny looking bug was found on the wall of our dining room. It’s only about 1cm in leangth & curled up like a slater as soon as it was touched. not a great photo but I can tell you that the fragmented looking parts on it back fall away quite easily. 6 legs hide underneath the body. Signature: Ricky
Neuropteran Larva
Hi Ricky, If there was no letter attached to this image, we would identify this as the larva of an Antlion, often called a Doodlebug, which buries itself in the sand at the bottom of a pit with just the jaws exposed.  It eats ants and other creatures that fall into the pit.  Some Antlions may have larvae that are more mobile.  Your letter indicates it was crawling on a wall, which inclines us to speculate that it might be a Lacewing Larva as many Lacewing Larvae camouflage themselves with bits of debris.  At any rate, both Antlions and Lacewings are in the insect order Neuroptera.  The Brisbane Insect website has a great photo of an Antlion Larva.

Letter 11 – Lacewing Larva

 

Little sucker, immature bug? Location: Melbourne, Victoria. Australia March 20, 2011 12:22 am G’day bugman. I felt something biting my ankle earlier today, so I had a look at found this little fella having a nibble. I thought it may be a springtail at first, but honestly I’m stumped. He has interesting orange, yellow and black markings. I would say he’s about 4-5mm long, he has 6 legs that I can see, and pincers up the front. He uses his rear end to help inch himself forward as well as stick to objects. He also appears to have some grey dust/lint attached to his back. Unfortunately my camera isn’t suited for taking macro images but these are the best two I could get from above/below, and one included for scale. Cheers, Erin. Signature: EW
Lacewing Larva
Hi Erin, You were bitten by a harmless Lacewing Larva.  Larval Lacewings are important predators that help keep down the population of other insects, especially Aphids and related plant feeders that can do major damage in the garden.  Some Lacewing Larvae adhere debris, including the remains of their prey, to their bodies as a form of camouflage, and that might explain the dust you mentioned.  Thankfully, there is a significant scale difference between humans and Lacewing Larvae because otherwise we wouldn’t stand a chance against this fierce predator.
Lacewing Larva
Thanks for that, we actually have a pretty severe aphid problem in the garden right now, so I made sure to release him back outside where he can be of some benefit. I had heard lacewings were beneficial but had never seen one before, now I know what to look out for and I can make sure they don’t get squashed along with any nearby aphids. 🙂

Letter 12 – Lacewing Larva

 

what just bit me? Location: south florida March 27, 2011 8:46 pm i just put on a shirt and right after i felt something bite me on my shoulder, a few seconds later i felt it again so i took off my shirt and inside i found this little guy. i’ve never seen a bug like this- what is it. Signature: joe
Lacewing Larva
Hi Joe, This is the Larva of a Lacewing that looks exactly like this image on BugGuide.  Both adult and larval Lacewings are important predators, consuming vast quantities of Aphids.  Perhaps you picked up this Lacewing Larva in the garden.  We have gotten several reports over the years of people being bitten by Lacewing Larvae, but they are perfectly harmless.

Letter 13 – Lacewing Larva

 

Odd Texas buggy Location: Keller, Texas…on the sidewalk May 13, 2011 4:54 pm Absolutely no idea what this little weirdo is. Looks like he’s got pieces of dead ants on his back. I figured just sending a letter for this one would be a lot easier than looking through the entire website. 😉 This is the second time I’ve ever seen one of these, the first time being several years ago. Signature: confused insect fan
Lacewing Larva
Dear confused insect fan, This is the Larva of a Lacewing.  They often carry the debris of their prey on their backs as a means of camouflage or protection.  We love that you took one photo from the bottom, showing the insect more clearly.
Lacewing Larva

Letter 14 – Lacewing Larva in Angelfood Cake

 

Grossed out Location: Lynnwood, WA May 24, 2011 12:48 am Holy crap, I was eating my angel food cake and spotted this thing crawling around in it. I flipped out mentally, but brought it out to my kitchen where the light was better and set it down to take pictures of it. I went through the rest of the cake pretty thoroughly and found no evidence of other similar bugs, but I can’t shake the feeling that this thing was in here before I bought it at the grocery store. Please help me figure out what it is, and tell me if it’s dangerous. Signature: – Freaked Out
Lacewing Larva searches for Aphids in Angelfood Cake
Dear Freaked Out, We do not mean in any way to minimize the trauma you felt upon encountering this lost Lacewing Larva while eating your angelfood cake, however, we chuckled none the less.  The Lacewing Larva, if it was capable of feelings, would have also felt traumatized at the realization that it was no longer in a habitat conducive to hunting Aphids.  Lacewing Larvae are found in gardens and among plants and they are very adept hunters that are cherished by organic gardeners because they help to control harmful insects.  Lacewings are even sold in quantities, though they are not quite as popular as either Lady Bugs or Preying Mantids in the biological warfare arena.  We highly doubt you found any additional Lacewing Larvae in your cake, though we feel quite certain that the entire pastry ended up in the garbage can.  It is worth mentioning that many insects are contained in processed foods that are sold by reputable manufacturers and markets.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has strict guidelines that must be followed regarding the upper limit of allowable insects in food, though most people are unaware that some insects are found in the foods they purchase and that they fall within the standard.  Here are some statistics on the limits that we copied from the Insects Are Food website: “Insects are commonly found in the following foods: Apple butter – 5 insects per 100g Berries – 4 larvae per 500g OR 10 whole insects per 500g Ground paprika – 75 insect fragments per 25g Chocolate – 80 microscopic insect fragments per 100g Canned sweet corn – 2.3mm-length larvae, cast skins or fragments Cornmeal – 1 insect per 50g Canned mushrooms – 20 maggots per 100g Peanut butter – 60 fragments per 100g (136 per lb) Tomato paste, pizza, and other sauces – 30 eggs per 100g OR 2 maggots per 100g Wheat flour – 75 insect fragments per 50g

Letter 15 – Lacewing Larva from South Africa

 

What is this? Location: Stellenbosch, South Africa February 11, 2012 4:15 am Hi, I live in Stellenbosch, South Africa, and I came across this strange little bug walking across my computer. It is less than a milimeter in size and brownish/grey in colour. I tried taking pics of it, the attached few are the best I could get. Signature: Carryn
Lacewing Larva
Hi Carryn, We sure got plenty of submissions from South Africa today, but the two we posted we were not able to identify to the species level.  Your insect is a Lacewing Larva, though we really like the common name Aphid Wolf.  The debris on its back is most likely the carcasses of prey.

Letter 16 – Lacewing Larva from Malaysia

 

Collector Location: Forest of Pitas, Sabah, Malaysia. April 29, 2012 3:45 am Hello again Mr.Bugman, I would like to ask about the identity of this strange insect. This insect has a pair of long mandibles to pick anything suitable from it’s surroundings to pile it onto it’s collection on it’s back. I believe it collects these things to help it in camouflaging just like the way some assassin bug nymphs pile their dead prey on their back. It has some spike-like hairs. It’s head looks like that of an antlion. Signature: Xing
Lacewing Larva
Hi Xing, Your observations are quite astute.  The reason the head reminds you of an Antlion is that this Lacewing Larva is in the same insect order as the Antlions.  This camouflage behavior is quite common in Lacewing Larvae.

Letter 17 – Lacewing Larva from Guatemala

 

Guatemala jungle bug Location: Tikal National Park, Guatemala May 3, 2012 7:11 am Could you help me identify this little guy? I took this photo near Tikal in Guatemala near the end of March this year. Barely visible, I just noticed his camouflage back cover moving on a tree and took a closer look. Thanks! Signature: David Creswell
Lacewing Larva
Hi David, This is the larva of a Lacewing and this camouflage behavior is common with many species of Lacewings.  We get numerous submissions from North America as well as other parts of the world.  We also just posted a photo of an adult Green Lacewing.  Both larvae and adults are predatory and they feed on vast quantities of Aphids and other small insects.

Letter 18 – Lacewing Larva

 

Subject: tiny pinching bug Location: Milledgeville GA (lightly wooded) Found in home October 25, 2012 4:11 pm Hi bugman! My mom found this little guy (unfortunately)chewing on her arm, leaving about 20 tiny bumps. She said the bumps were itchy at first but the sensation diminished in a half hour or so. Knowing I wouldn’t be pleased if she squished it, she instead put the little bug(approx 2mm long) on a piece of paper and brought him to me. (I was very proud of her.) I feel like I’ve seen one of these before but I can’t place him. When he moves his head goes from side to side (this is why his head is blurry in nearly every picture I got of him) It is late in October here (temps are mid – upper 70’s during the day & in the 50’s at night) Thank you in advance for your time and as always, thank you for hosting such a wonderful place for people to learn more about the wonderful world of bugs! P.S. the little guy was released on the edge of our property, well away from the house. 🙂 Signature: Courtney (always curious)
Lacewing Larva
Hi Courtney, This is the larva of a Lacewing, commonly called an Aphid Wolf, and we have gotten numerous reports from our readers indicating that the bite is irritating.  Our own editorial staff can attest firsthand that the effects of the bite of a Lacewing larva may last several hours, however, it is not dangerous.  Even adult Lacewings are reported to bite.  We are tagging this posting with the Bug Humanitarian Award for both your mother who transported the Aphid Wolf on a piece of paper, and to you for relocating the Aphid Wolf to a safe haven.

Letter 19 – Lacewing Larva

 

Subject: Weird bug. Location: Texas December 30, 2012 6:59 pm Found this little guy on my sons binoculars. Grossed me out. I’ve never seen a bug like this. I asked friends and family if they’d ever seen a bug like this and they all said no. I would live to know what kind if bug was on my 6 yr olds binoculars. This was not in our house, thank goodness. Signature: Becca
Lacewing Larva
Dear Becca, This is the larva of a Lacewing, and it is considered a beneficial predator that can help control Aphids and other garden pests.  We have personal knowledge that the bite of a Lacewing Larva, while not dangerous to humans, will result in an itchy annoyance for several days.

Letter 20 – Lacewing Larva

 

Subject: Strange bug Location: Elizabethton, Tennessee October 18, 2013 6:54 am Would you know what this bug is? Signature: Patrice Nussear
Lacewing Larva
Lacewing Larva
Dear Patrice, This is the larva of a Lacewing.  Many species employ camouflage techniques as protection against predators.

Letter 21 – Lacewing Larva

 

Subject: What is this thing? Location: Little Rock, AR July 25, 2014 Daniel, I hope you don’t mind my emailing you with another bug question.  I found this one on the same plant as the scentless plant bug, and, once again, we’re all stumped.  Given that this one made us feel a strong urge to stuff cotton into our ears before we sleep, I’m even more curious than last time. Thank you for any info you can offer. 🙂 Sincerely, L.J. Rhodes
Lacewing Larva
Lacewing Larva
Dear L.J. Rhodes, This efficient predator is the larva of a Lacewing, and they are one of the most effective, beneficial predators for both home gardeners and the agricultural industry.  Both larvae and adult Lacewings consume large quantities of insects including Aphids.  Lacewing Larvae are sometimes called Aphid Wolves.  In the future, please continue to use our standard submission form for new requests.  We had to cobble location information together from your previous submission, and using the standard form ensures that all the location is contained in one email.

Letter 22 – Lacewing Larva from England

 

Subject: beetle or weevil?? Location: england July 27, 2014 9:02 am Found this in north east england yesterday, in woodland near a river, never seen one before. Do you know what it is?? Signature: mark
Aphid Wolf
Aphid Wolf
Dear Mark, Weevils are a family of Beetles, and this is neither a Beetle nor a Weevil.  It is a larval Lacewing, sometimes called an Aphid Wolf.

Letter 23 – Lacewing Larva from Czech Republic

 

Subject: Is this a louse? Location: Lensedly, Czech Republic August 1, 2014 12:43 am Dear Bugman, in our bedroom we have found multiple pieces of something that we thought was a louse, but have doubts as the shape of the body (the abdomen) is much thinner. Additionally, my wife says it bit her while crawling on her arm, even though it was not particularly painful and left no trace of the bite on the skin. Any idea? Thanks so much, Signature: Dan Stastny
Lacewing Larva
Lacewing Larva
Dear Dan, This is NOT a Louse.  This is the Larva of a Lacewing, and important predatory family that preys upon Aphids and other plant pests.  We have gotten reports of bites from Lacewing Larvae in the past, and the reaction tends to vary from person to person, but there has not been any report of a severe allergic reaction to the bite based on our information.

Letter 24 – Lacewing Larva from Portugal

 

Subject: strange insect Location: portugal near spanish border spain September 29, 2015 10:00 am Hello, while I was on my computer I saw a strange insect. It looked like walking piece of dust, I took it under microscope and then I realized it looked like a ball dust because it had a dust ball on its back that got stuck due to some big hairs on its back. It is about 1 to 2mm big and strangely has a pair of mandibles inside an other pair of mandibles. Greetings Signature: Karl
Lacewing Larva
Lacewing Larva
Dear Karl, This looks like the larva of a Lacewing to us.  Many Lacewing Larvae use camouflage, covering themselves with the carcasses of prey as well as other detritus. Thank you very much dear Daniel. Your site is great I am really thank full for your hard work at this page. Greeting Karl

Letter 25 – Lacewing Larva

 

Subject: Bug bites Location: Northeast Florida November 10, 2015 9:20 pm I was involved in a fall festival where I came in close contact with many people from all over my city. I started getting bug bites all over my arms mostly. I checked and fumigated for both fleas and bed bugs. Never saw any sign of bed bugs but did see a flea or 2. I have a dog. As I was in bed reading, this bug crawled across my book. What is it? Could it be what is biting me? If so, how do I get rid of it? Signature: Tamara
Lacewing Larva
Lacewing Larva
Dear Tamara, This is the larva of a Lacewing, and because they are so effective eating Aphids in the garden, they are sometimes called Aphid Wolves or Aphid Lions.  Though they do not habitually bite humans, we have gotten several reports from people being bitten by Lacewing Larvae.  We do not believe they are the source of your bites.

Letter 26 – Lacewing Larva

 

Subject: Kissing bug? Leptoglossus species? Location: WV, USA November 24, 2015 4:52 am I found this bug in my laundry basket on my bed ?. It is November in the eastern panhandle of WV and the cold weather has moved in. The picture is magnified and I would guess the bug was 1/2 cm long. It resembles the kissing bug as well as leptoglossus bugs however, neither of those have the exact markings that this bug has not do they have a pointed “butt” like this one. I’m a bit freaked out as I have a 6 weeks old who sleeps with me as well as a 2 year old in the home! HELP! Signature: Jenna Gainey
Lacewing Larva
Lacewing Larva
Dear Jenna, This is neither a Kissing Bug nor a Leptoglossus species.  It is a Lacewing Larva, AKA Aphid Wolf, and it is considered a beneficial species as it helps to control populations of Aphids and other plant feeding species in the garden.  We do receive reports of bites from Lacewing Larvae, but the bite is not considered dangerous, producing only local redness and itching.

Letter 27 – Lacewing Larva from Australia

 

Subject: What insect is this Location: Melbourne Victoria December 21, 2015 6:15 am Hello Found this little guy on my bathroom sink. Roughly the same size as an ant. Had a really good look and it appears to be on its own, couldn’t find anymore. Signature: Anyhow
Aphid Wolf
Aphid Wolf
This is a beneficial Lacewing Larva, commonly called an Aphid Wolf because of the large numbers of harmful garden insects it will consume.  We have gotten numerous reports of folks being bitten by Lacewing Larvae, and though the bite is not considered dangerous, the itchiness does last some time.

Letter 28 – Lacewing Larva from Alaska

 

Subject: AK tiny 6legged bug with pincers Location: Anchorage, Alaska June 7, 2016 4:34 am hello! I sure would love your help in identifying this bug I found this crawling on my night stand. it appears to have 6 legs, a small set of pincers, ivory and grayish or perhaps yellowish ? in color w a body that could roll up a bit when poked. hopefully the pictures help and hopefully you can help me ! Oh yes and I live in Anchorage , Alaska. Thank you very much. Signature: Sarah Quirk
Aphid Wolf
Aphid Wolf
Dear Sarah, While we have received numerous reports from folks who have been bitten by Lacewing Larvae, including from our own editorial staff, these fierce predators that are sometimes called Aphid Wolves are nonetheless beneficial predators.  The bite may cause local irritation, but it is not considered dangerous.

Letter 29 – Lacewing Larva from Saudi Arabia

 

Subject: Itty bitty pincers in KSA Location: Thuwal, Saudi Arabia October 11, 2016 11:49 pm My wife found this little guy, about 8mm crawling on her laptop this morning. We are new to KSA from USA and have seen some interesting little creatures and were wondering if you could help us out identifying this one. Signature: Isaac
Lacewing Larva
Lacewing Larva
Dear Isaac, This is the larva of a Lacewing, commonly called an Aphid Wolf.  We get countless submissions of Lacewing larvae from around the world, including many from the USA.

Letter 30 – Possibly Lacewing Larva

 

Subject: What’s that bug Location: Pasadena tx December 7, 2016 7:03 pm My son found this bug on his shirt. I just want to know what it is and if can hurt us. Signature: William Roland
Possibly Lacewing Larva
Possibly Lacewing Larva
Dear William, This is a predatory larval Neuropteran, probably a Lacewing larva, commonly called an Aphid Wolf.  Lacewing larvae are beneficial in the garden, but we have received several reports of folks who have been bitten, including our own editorial staff.  We know firsthand that the bite is not painful, but the itchy welt does last about a week.

Letter 31 – Lacewing Larva

 

Subject: Tiny Alligator Bug Location: North Virginia July 14, 2017 6:05 pm Hi Bugman, I noticed this tiny bug crawling around a tennis court. For some reason, it reminded me of a tiny alligator. I believe it was crawling on my forearm, if that helps indicate the size. The location was somewhere around Aldie, VA, and I found it in the month of May.Thanks for your help. Signature: The BugWatcher
Lacewing Larva
Dear BugWatcher, This is a predatory Lacewing larva, and they are sometimes called Aphid Wolves because they eat large quantities of Aphids, which makes them an important natural method to control insect populations.  They are sometimes sold commercially by nurseries that specialize in organic methods of insect control.  You should be warned that many folks write to us complaining about the bites of both Lacewing larvae and adults.  Though the bite of a Lacewing larva is not serious, we can personally testify that the itching that results is proportionally greater than the size of the critter.

Letter 32 – Lacewing Larva

 

Subject:  What is this Geographic location of the bug:  Southeast texas Date: 05/12/2019 Time: 03:37 PM EDT Your letter to the bugman:  Almost sat on it in car How you want your letter signed:  holly
Aphid Wolf
Dear Holly, This is a Lacewing Larva, commonly called an Aphid Wolf.  Many folks experience unprovoked bites from Lacewing larvae, and the irritation from a bite might last a week or longer, so in that sense, you are lucky you did not sit on it with exposed skin.  Though it causes some irritation, the bite of a Lacewing larva is not considered dangerous.  We are incredibly amused at the composition of your image.

Letter 33 – Monarch Chrysalis and Aphid Wolf: threat or not???

 

Subject:  Bug Near Monarch Chrysalides Geographic location of the bug:  Mahopac, NY Date: 07/20/2019 Time: 03:28 PM EDT Your letter to the bugman:  Hello, This year is my first year raising monarch butterflies. I came across this small brownish-tan bug on the same leaf as a chrysalis in my potted fuschia plant outside. I didn’t think much of it being a potential parasitic predator until I saw it extend its abdomen downward toward the top of the chrysalis. I pinched off the leaf with the chrysalis and brought it indoors, leaving the other bug outside. One day later I saw another one crawling on top of my monarch habitat/chrysalis support. I’m wondering what this insect is, and if it will cause any harm to the butterfly. I’ve read about parasitic wasps and tachinid flies, but nothing like this. I will definitely be raising monarchs indoors next year, but this was an unexpected experience, one that shows how vulnerable these creatures are. The pictures I’ve attached show the bug on the indoor wooden support, another in the plant outside with the chrysalis, and a separate, tainted chrysalis I found had fallen previously in my fuschia plant. I did take the  withered, fallen chrysalis inside (about 5 days ago) and attached it to the support, and am now wondering if the bug I found iside emerged from that chrysalis… How you want your letter signed:  Emeline
Monarch Chrysalis and Aphid Wolf
Dear Emeline, The insect in question is a Lacewing Larva, commonly called an Aphid Wolf.  It is a predator, and we cannot entirely discount that it might try to feed off a Monarch chrysalis, but we doubt that possibility.  It most definitely did not emerge from the Chrysalis.  Lacewing Larvae are generally thought of as beneficial in the garden as they eat Aphids and other small insects, and they hatch from an egg that is suspended above the leaf from a silken thread.
Aphid Wolf

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.

18 thoughts on “Lacewing Life Cycle: How Long Do Lacewings Live?”

  1. Well this little critter was quite clearly alive and kicking, so I think I can say without a doubt that it very recently dropped onto the slice of cake from a tree or plant, and was not baked into it!

    It also seems extremely unlikely that this Lacewing larva got into the package at the store, since this is very much an outdoor bug not an indoor bug.

    I wonder if there was a bunch of cut flowers (lilacs for instance) in this person’s house that it could have been on, such that maybe it dropped off and fell onto the cake as the person was getting ready to eat the cake?

    Just an idea…

    Susan J. Hewitt

    Reply
    • Thanks for your perspective Susan. We never meant to imply that the Lacewing Larva was baked into the cake. We wanted to make the point that insects in food is not an unusual occurrence. Your theory about a bouquet of flowers is a good possibility.

      Reply
  2. Did the bug bite or sting? I’ve been stung three times usually in the spring or fall. I have an allergic reaction to the sting.

    Reply
  3. I live in Dallas Texas. In June I was bitten on three different occasions by Aphid Lions. I was trimming my crepe myrtle trees and I guess they fell and landed on me. Harmless enough but really itches after a couple of days.

    Reply
  4. I found a tiny guy like this, sort of, in our garden this morning, but my tiny guy looked more like walking white fuzz, white moss/cotton. I was completely surprised I was able to see him/her moving across the dark soil.
    We live in Northern California, and previously to this little guy we found a normal one in one of our fruitless mulberry trees.
    Is the camo. lacewing larvae normally found here? Curious as only having once in my life seen the normal one. I suppose because they are so small.
    Thank you.

    Reply
  5. I found a tiny guy like this, sort of, in our garden this morning, but my tiny guy looked more like walking white fuzz, white moss/cotton. I was completely surprised I was able to see him/her moving across the dark soil.
    We live in Northern California, and previously to this little guy we found a normal one in one of our fruitless mulberry trees.
    Is the camo. lacewing larvae normally found here? Curious as only having once in my life seen the normal one. I suppose because they are so small.
    Thank you.

    Reply
  6. I believe that they do “sting,” to some degree. I have video of one with its tail stuck into me and the pain just like a bee sting. I’m allergic to them.as I become so swollen at the bite site that after a day, little tears develop & an amber fluid slowly leaks out for days. It’s been confirmed by an entomologist that it is green lacewing larvae. Nasty. They’re all over my yard a certain time of year. I’m in the east San Francisco Bay Area, CA.

    Reply
  7. Missy, that is exactly what happens to me. The larva sticks it’s tail in my skin. I get a large red swollen area and have to get medical treatment to make the reaction stop. The spot oozes yellow liquid and usually a small white object comes out with the liquid. When the white object comes out, the place begins to heal. It will not heal until the white object comes out, though.

    Reply
  8. Erhoades50 – NOT that I’d wish this pain on anyone but you just completely validated me!! My friends get bitten (is it REALLY a “bite” when it comes from the TAIL??) and they just get a itchy little red bump like a mosquito bite. The first 2 entomologists I spoke with insisted it couldn’t be this particular insect because “they don’t sting” and there are “no documented” reactions like mine. So I took a bullet to prove my case – the next time I was stung, I filmed with my iPhone – it was very clear video – and because that’s the longest I’d been stung – the reaction was well underway before video ended. My ankle looked like it swallowed a baseball. I also sent a video of the after affect – the tiny tears throughout the wound, the mysterious amber fluid leaking from them – skin so red it looks like a burn.. Finally a scientist said I was the first one he knew of to react this way and it simply meant that I’m severelyallergic even though they’re tiny. He also thought the stinging from the tail was extremely unusual behavior as it’s not documented either but I assured him that every time it’s ever happened, its come from the tail.. So – I carry Benadryl cream with me now and also crushing an aspirin and sticking it to the wound with the cream really helps the pain/throbbing so I suggest you try that.

    Reply
  9. Missy, several have told me that the bug does not sting. I looked it up on the internet and it said they do not sting. Yet, the little bugs search me out. I walk outside and they migrate to me. Internet says they eat aphids. I guess you and I smell like aphids. You can tell the scientist you have met another person who has allergic reactions. Maybe they should test us to see why the bugs go after us and sting us. I wonder how many more people out there are like us.

    Reply
  10. I get these bugs every year in the back yard tree, and they bite me and my son. The bite will burn and itch for weeks after !! I am guessing its the lace bug larvae!

    Reply
  11. We just found the lacewing larvae that bit my wife. Reading threw many articles that claim they are a nuisance, yet my wife and I have been bitten many times. My wife’s first bite on her ankle, 2, bites. Blistered and swollen. Had to see the doctor. Second time, 2 small blisters immediately on her wrist, swollen up to her elbow in 12 hours. . No big blisters that time.
    To me they feel like a small sting but no reaction like my wife.
    I’ve read many articles that claim they are just a nuisance yet many have had severe reactions.
    Thanks for the reading.
    Best, Robert

    Reply
  12. We just found the lacewing larvae that bit my wife. Reading threw many articles that claim they are a nuisance, yet my wife and I have been bitten many times. My wife’s first bite on her ankle, 2, bites. Blistered and swollen. Had to see the doctor. Second time, 2 small blisters immediately on her wrist, swollen up to her elbow in 12 hours. . No big blisters that time.
    To me they feel like a small sting but no reaction like my wife.
    I’ve read many articles that claim they are just a nuisance yet many have had severe reactions.
    Thanks for the reading.
    Best, Robert

    Reply
  13. Thank you for your speedy reply! This is very helpful. There are certainly plenty of aphids in my garden for this little one to snack on. I even have some aphids on my indoor plants, which may explain why I found an aphid wolf inside.

    Reply

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