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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Don't Kill the Green Lacewings By Accident!

Green lacewing adult. This is not my picture. I borrowed
it from somewhere on the internet and now cant find it. Sorry
to whoever owns it.
Q. I planted one of your bare root trees and it's doing fairly well.  This morning I noticed some pale green flying bugs on them.  They were too fast for me to get a picture but they are about 3/4" long with a 1/16" diameter body with fairly long legs.  The wings were almost transparent.  I've had a major problem with borers in the past and want to make sure these aren't going to kill my trees.  With that limited info can you guess at what they are and if treatment is needed?

A. I think this calls for some congratulations.  If I am seeing from your description, what you are seeing, and seeing it correctly, you have green lacewings; a fabulous addition to your fruit trees. 

This is my picture. Green lacewing egg on a
thin stalk elevated from the surface of a green
almond. Finding this on fruit or in the orchard
is a great sign it is organic.
         We have them at the orchard as well and it is primarily because we use so few pesticides and the pesticides that we do use are used in a way that helps preserve our beneficial insects like green lacewings and ladybird beetles are ladybugs they are sometimes called.  Both of these insects are voracious feeders on other insects like aphids for instance.  They can also do a number on other soft bodied pests. 

            Enjoy them. They are not good flyers but kind of flutter clumsily from place to place.  The voracious eaters are their immature forms. I am sending you pictures but I will post pictures of both the adults and juveniles on my blog because the adult and juvenile forms look nothing alike. You have to learn to identify both forms of these insects or you may make the mistake of thinking they are bad guys.

            So now it is up to you to be careful in using pesticides so that you can preserve populations of these insects to help you out. They will not impact your borer population unfortunately but they will help you in other ways and you can look forward in seeing these guys each year if you are careful in applying pesticides.
            That doesn’t mean you can’t apply any but you just have to be careful when and which ones you use. Even soap and water can kill these good guys, and will, if you apply it incorrectly.


  1. I know that lacewings are very beneficial and are even quite lovely creatures. However, I have a problem where I live with these guys: they come out in multitudes in the warm summer evenings and chase everyone else in the house because not only do they stink, but they bite! I would like to enjoy the starry evenings without being attacked, but don't know what to do about this. As a child, in the same area as I now live, my siblings and I slept outside and never had problems with lacewings, but now nobody can stay outside past dusk. What do you suggest?

  2. Yes, the adults and the larva (sometimes called ant lions or doodlebugs)both of sickle-like pincers on the mouthparts. The mouthparts have the capapbility of injecting venom into its victims in what is thought to be kind of a pre-digestion. So when they bite it can be painful. Green lacewings can be a problem in desert areas more than others because, I think, there are fewer predators and diseases to limit their populations and a good food supply.