Lacewing Larva

2011 December 17

Here’s a lacewing larva that we found on a clover blossom on July 18, 2011. It was about 8 mm long, and pretty hard to see until we got it on a sheet of paper.

I’ve had pictures of adult lacewings before, but the adults aren’t as clearly predatory as the larvae. Just look at those mandibles, this is obviously the sort of creature that spends its life murdering aphids.

The feet are interesting, too. Most insects have some sort of substantial footpads or claws at the ends of their legs to serve as feet, but this one just has these tiny, almost invisible claws. It makes it look almost as if it is designed to tiptoe along.

I don’t know if it is just because I’m looking more closely for them now than I used to, but it seems like lacewings are getting more common in our yard all the time. When they become adults in the fall, we flush up numbers of them whenever we walk through the tall grass. And, as I noted in the previous lacewing post, the population of Multicolored Asian Lady Beetles (which are also primarily aphid predators) is still way down, to the point where they are almost nonexistent. I can’t help thinking that there could be a connection. The most likely is that after their big population boom, the lady beetles were wiped out by some disease, leaving the aphid-eating niche wide open for the lacewings. But it is also possible that the lacewing larvae may be eating the lady beetle larvae, in which case the lacewings could be part of the cause of the decline in the asian lady beetles.

2 Responses
  1. Carole permalink
    December 17, 2011

    Fascinating. Have you considered sharing your observations with the Lost Ladybug Project? Google them if you aren’t familiar with the Project.

  2. December 21, 2011

    I love the fact that you photographed it on paper with some type on it. I’m not good with metric measurements and 8mm doesn’t mean much to me, but seeing the type underneath the critter did wonders for scaling the image.

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