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Lacewings

Lacewings are generalist predators of helicoverpa eggs and small soft-bodied insects.

Scientific name

Brown lacewing Micromus sp.
Green lacewing
Mallada sp.

Description

Green lacewings (12mm) are slightly larger than brown lacewings (8mm). Adults fly at night and are attracted to light. They have:

  • long antennae and prominent eyes
  • wings folded over the back in an inverted 'V' shape.

Larvae have sickle-shaped jaws that they drive into soft-bodied insects or eggs before sucking up the contents.

  • Brown lacewing larvae are longer and thinner and do not camouflage themselves.
  • Green lacewing larvae camouflage themselves by placing corpses of their victims onto their backs. The pupal cocoon is also camouflaged with corpses.

Eggs are laid on the underside of leaves.

  • Brown lacewing eggs are cream-coloured. They are attached singly and do not have stalks.
  • Green lacewing eggs are white and attached in groups by long, flexible stalks.

May be confused with

Larvae may be confused with carab beetle larvae.

Distribution and habitat

Widespread across Australia.

Hosts

Moth larvae and eggs, aphids, whitefly, thrips, mealybugs and mites.

Impact on pests

Lacewings are a major predator of aphids, consuming up to 60 per hour.

Life cycle and ecology

Both adults and larvae of brown lacewings are predaceous, but only the larvae of green lacewings are predators (the adults feed on nectar and pollen).

Lacewings are most active in warm climates. Cooler temperatures may trigger diapause (hibernation).

Factors that influence effectiveness

Lacewing adults are very sensitive to some pesticides. Refer to the impact of insecticides table in the latest edition of the Cotton Pest Management Guide for more information.

Green lacewings are:

  • available for inundative release
  • more likely to be active and persist in flowering crops or where nectar is available nearby.

Further information