Bee Thankful: Green Lacewings
November 23, 2011
It’s finally here: Thanksgiving, a day of full bellies and thankful hearts. In fact, I’m sure many of you are basting turkeys and filling pies already. And so comes the final component of Bee Thankful, DPI’s special blog series about the beneficial insects that we Floridians often take for granted.
Today’s subject is very peculiar. In fact, most of you are probably not even familiar with its existence. This beneficial beauty is called the green lacewing.
Green lacewings are common insects found on grass, weeds, cultivated row crops and shrubs throughout North America. These insects are ¾ inch long and have delicate, light green bodies and large, clear wings. Their eyes are significant, and usually gold or copper in color. Their larvae are small, grayish brown, and elongate with pincer-like mandibles.
But what do these tiny, green insects do for you?
Green lacewings are also known as “Aphid Lions.” This nickname arose from their distinctive appetite for soft-bodied insects, mites, insect eggs and you guessed it – aphids. This makes them incredibly useful in the biological control of these pests. Aphids, also known as plant lice, suck the sap out of plant shoots and leaves and inject their own saliva. This weakens the plants, prohibits growth, causes the leaves to wilt, and delays fruit or flower production. And the worst part, aphids spread diseases from plant to plant as they drink the sap. This pest can have a devastating impact on Florida citrus, watermelons and many other Florida cash crops. Green lacewings are so beneficial to our natural resources, they are marketed and sold to gardeners and other green thumbs who are protecting their crops from pesky pests.
No pesticides needed to control these bad guys. Green lacewings to the rescue!