Lacewings are popular among gardeners as biological pest control, but it is good to know what their limits are. In this blog, we look at what lacewings are good for and whether you should have them in your garden.
Lacewings (or, more accurately, their larvae) are generalist predators, one of the few varieties of beneficial insects that are of immense help to gardeners all over the world.
Lacewing larvae are voracious, indiscriminate, and gruesome hunters of various types of pests in gardens, yards, and plantations.
They use their specialized pincher-like mouthparts to pierce the skin of their prey. Then, they inject it with a special venom that converts its insides into liquid.
Finally, they suck out the liquid to feed on it. By the end of this murder, nothing except the victim’s outer shell remains.
Lacewing larvae feed on soft-bodied insects because they don’t have a sharp proboscis to pierce the exoskeleton of hard-bodied insects.
But which insects do lacewings prey on? Let’s talk about what lacewings are good for in this blog.
Do Lacewings Eat Ladybugs?
Thankfully no, these two beneficial insects can peacefully coexist without hurting each other. Both go about clearing other pests in your garden without feeding on themselves.
Many gardeners buy eggs of both these insects and release them in their garden to get rid of other pests.
Do Green Lacewings Eat Termites?
Termites are soft-bodied, so they can easily fall prey to lacewings. However, the natural habitat of termites is wood, and lacewing larvae prefer to sit on plant leaves and flowers for their feeding.
One particular species of lacewing larvae, the Lomamyia Latipennis (beaded lacewings), has a unique way of killing termites.
These larvae usually hatch near termite nests or mounds. They have sensory abilities that help them locate termites, and then they do something amazing: they fart on the termite!
Their fart contains a noxious gas that overwhelms termites, and they become easy prey to the lacewing larva.
Do Lacewings Eat Spider Mites?
Lacewings can and do eat spider mites, but it is important to understand that lacewings are not the natural enemies of these mites. They are generalist predators that eat just about anything.
If you are looking only for a solution to spider mites, you might prefer something like the Phytoseiulus persimilis, which is another beneficial insect specialized in eating spider mites.
Do Lacewings Eat Mosquitoes?
Mosquitos are soft-bodied but have hard outer exoskeletons, so lacewings aren’t particularly fond of them. Moreover, mosquitos can fly, which gives them a huge advantage over lacewing larvae.
Specialist mosquito predators include dragonflies and damselflies. In the larval stage, when mosquitos are submerged under water, whirligig beetles and water striders are also their predators.
Do Lacewings Eat Fungus Gnats?
Yes, lacewings can eat fungus gnats in your garden. Again, lacewings are not specialized for the job, but if fungus gnats are one of the problems among many that you face, lacewings might be your guys.
If you are looking for a specialized hunter for fungus gnat larvae, the fungus gnat predator (Hypoaspis aculeifer) is perfect for you.
Do Lacewings Eat Mealybugs?
Yes, green lacewing larvae love to feed on mealybugs as well. Mealybugs are sap suckers, just like aphids, and can leave your entire garden full of wilted and dried-out plants in very little time.
They get their name from their outer waxy layer, which gives them a special cotton-like appearance. Green lacewing larvae can snap them right up in no time.
Do Lacewings Eat Aphids?
Do they ever! Lacewing larvae are one of the most voracious eaters of aphids, so much so that they are often called aphid lions!
They can eat up to 1,000 aphids during their lifetime as larvae, and they are not prejudiced against any species – they will eat aphids off from any plant.
Do Lacewings Eat Leafhopper Larvae?
Yes, Lacewing larvae love feeding on leafhopper larvae too. These generalist predators can eat up to 250 or more leafhopper nymphs and larvae in just ten days, as per one research.
However, using lacewings for large-scale infestations of these bugs is still a matter of study among scientists.
Do Lacewings Eat Moth Eggs?
Yes, they do eat moth eggs if they don’t find much else around. Both green and brown lacewings may eat moth eggs.
Insect eggs like the moth egg are really small, so they are not the perfect food source for lacewings. Still, during their 2 to 3-week period when they are larvae, lacewings will eat whatever they find, including moth eggs.
Do Lacewings Eat Thrips?
Yes, thrips are another favorite of lacewing larvae. Thrips are small biting insects that have wings and can fly. They are pests that suck sap from plants, just like aphids.
Thrips and aphids can both reproduce quickly in large numbers, so both need a strong predator that can eat a lot of them very quickly for biological control.
Do Lacewings Eat Whiteflies?
Yes, lacewing larvae are quite effective against whiteflies as well. Just like aphids and thrips, whiteflies are sap suckers that can leave your plants yellow and lifeless very quickly.
Lacewings can eat many whiteflies and their larvae at once, potentially cleaning up your whole garden in no time.
What Plants Do Lacewings Help?
Adult lacewings are pollinators, so if there are any flower-bearing plants in your garden, they can help these plants spread their pollen.
Of course, the lacewings extract a price for this service – namely, sucking the nectar out of flowers using their sucking mouthparts.
There are certain plants that lacewings are especially attracted to, such as coreopsis, cosmos, verbena, daisies, dill, sweet alyssum, and so on.
If you plant some of these in your garden, you have a high chance of lacewings showing up sooner or later.
Do Lacewings Damage Plants?
No, lacewings do not harm any plants. Larval lacewings are predators of a lot of plant pests. These carnivores have no interest in feeding on the plant in any way and prefer to keep to their strict diet of aphids, mealybugs, and the like.
Adult female lacewings are pollinators who suck nectar from flowers and spread the plant’s pollen to other plants, which helps in plant reproduction.
What Do Lacewings Do for the Environment?
Green lacewings are an important part of environmental food chains. Pests such as aphids, mealybugs, caterpillars, leafhoppers, and others can reproduce very quickly and leave your garden defoliated in no time.
By feeding on these insects, the lacewings help to reduce their population to manageable levels. They are a great help to those who have plants and love gardening.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Lacewings Harmful?
No, lacewings are not at all harmful to humans. These bugs can bite if they are startled or perceive a threat, but even their bite is not very dangerous.
The only time when lacewing bites can be dangerous is if the person is allergic to insect bites. In such cases, the bite might cause nausea, vomiting, and even respiratory problems.
How do you use lacewings?
You can buy lacewing eggs from any common gardening store. The eggs hatch to produce larvae, which will continue to be in the larval stage for at least three weeks before they pupate into adult lacewings.
If you are planning to use lacewing eggs on your plants, we would not suggest more than ten eggs per plant. This is enough for the bugs to come out in large numbers and eradicate all others bugs in their vicinity.
Do lacewings eat ants?
Unfortunately, no, ants are too big and have too hard an outer shell for lacewings to eat them. In fact, lacewings are predators of aphids, and ants are protectors of these bugs, so ants are antagonistic to lacewings.
They can quickly kill and eat lacewing larvae, so it is important for the lacewing larvae to maintain camouflage when around ants.
Do lacewings smell?
Yes, they let out a rather pungent and unbecoming odor. This is a defense mechanism that these bugs have adopted, much like stink bugs and other similar insects.
Due to the distinctive foul odor, lacewings are also known as stinkflys.
Lacewings are one of the most beneficial insects to have in your garden. These bugs will eat most other predators of your plants, and they are quick to finish off large infestations without the need to spray harmful insecticides.
Lacewings remain in the larval stage for only 2-3 weeks, but during this time, they can eat up 1,000 aphids and 250 leafhopper nymphs. We hope you enjoyed reading about what lacewings can potentially do in your garden.
Thank you for reading!
It is important to understand which beneficial insect can help you with which kind of pests in your garden. Our readers have also shared several insights about lacewings over the years, go through the mails below to learn all about it.
Letter 1 – Moth Mimic Lacewing from Australia
Lacewing Mon, Oct 20, 2008 at 6:08 PM Hi Guys, found an ID for the plume moth, Alucita phricodes. Thanks for posting the picture. Last night had this visitor come into the house, a lacewing that mimics a moth, Psychopsis mimica. Hope you like it. aussietrev Queensland, Australia Wow Trevor, That is one awesome looking Lacewing. I am linking to another image of Psychopsis mimica, but there is no information on this unusual Lacewing on the page.