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Green Lacewing (Chrysoperla rufilabris)

Green lacewings are predators found in most environments. Several species of Chrysoperla and Chrysopa are important predators. The common green lacewing occurs throughout North America, while other species are more restricted in distribution.  The light green adult has long, slender antennae, golden eyes, and large, veined, gauze-like wings that are 1/2 - 1/3 inch long. It is a slow-flying, nocturnal insect that feeds on nectar and pollen, and it emits a foul-smelling fluid from special glands if captured.

Green lacewing is widely used in various situations to control many different pests. Many species of adult lacewings do not kill pest insects, they actually subsist on foods such as nectar, pollen and honeydew. It’s their predacious offspring that get the job done. If you’re looking for effective aphid control, green lacewing larva should help do the trick.

The adult lacewing lays her eggs on foliage where each egg is attached to the top of a hair-like filament. After a few days the eggs hatch and a tiny predatory larva emerges ready to eat some aphid pests.

Lacewing larvae are tiny when emerging from the egg, but grow to 3/8 of an inch long. They’re known as aphid lions since they voraciously attack aphids by seizing them with large, sucking jaws and inject a paralyzing venom. The hollow jaws then draw out the body fluids of the pest, killing it. Of all available commercial predators, this lacewing is the most voracious and has the greatest versatility for aphid control in field crops, orchards, and greenhouses.

Target Pest: aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, leafhopper nymphs, caterpillar eggs, scales, thrips and whiteflies.

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Optimal Environment: The conditions for optimum natural aphid control performance will be between 67–89°F with a relative humidity of 30% or greater. These are optimum conditions and not necessarily essential for successful implementation. Please note, however, significantly cooler or warmer temperatures and humidity fluctuations may hamper reproduction and development to a certain degree.

Release Rates:

Prevent    1-3 per 10sq.ft., monthly, as needed
Low    2-5 per 10sq.ft. bi-weekly, 2-3 times
Med    4-8 per 10sq.ft., weekly, 2-4 times
High    1 per sq.ft., bi-wkly, 3-5 times
Maint    1-2 per 10sq.ft., tri-weekly, indef.
Garden    60-90% of rates listed
Acre+    20-50% of rates listed.

Lifecycle: Each green lacewing larva will devour 200 or more pests or pest eggs a week during their two to three week developmental period. After this stage, the larvae pupate by spinning a cocoon with silken thread. Approximately five days later adult lacewings emerge to mate and repeat the life cycle. Depending on climatic conditions, the adult will live about four to six weeks.

Each adult female may deposit more than 200 eggs. For best results, habitats should encourage the adults to remain and reproduce in the release area. Nectar, pollen, and honeydew stimulate their reproductive process. If these food sources are not available, adults may disperse.  Green lacewing adults can survive the winter in protected places but have a difficult time surviving cold winters.

Strategic Considerations: The larvae are one of the fastest predators available, from release to first meal, anyway. Moreover, because of their opportunistic nature, they are useful for a few pests in addition to aphids. For reliability, though, use them for aphids and, perhaps, scale insect species.

 

Selected References

University of Wisconsin Department of Entomology