Very Young Lacewing Larvae

2021 January 31

Here I have two specimens of what I think is the same species, collected just over a year apart: one on September 1, 2019 and the other on September 26, 2020. Sam caught the 2019 specimen, here it is on her arm:


This is a larva of one of the green lacewings, genus Chyrsoperla. I think it is pretty young, though, since it was only maybe 6 or 7 millimeters long. You can get an idea of its size, or lack thereof, by comparing it with Sam’s arm hairs.


The one from 2020 is one that I found.


Here it is crawling on my knuckle, which might give a better sense of scale than the previous one. It was really pushing the resolution of my camera to get these shots, most of them were blurrier.


These are voracious predators of aphids and other soft-bodied plant-feeding insects. They stab them with those long mandibles, and suck out their juices. The larvae of some lacewing species then cover themselves with the corpses of their victims for camouflage, although the green lacewings don’t seem to do that, and just run around naked.


This isn’t the first time I’ve had pictures of lacewing larvae, but the last time it was much closer to maturity, and therefore considerably bigger. (And actually, looking at that previous one, it might not even be the same species). Once they mature, they turn into these medium-sized green slow-flying things that are commonly drawn to porch lights.

2 Responses
  1. February 17, 2021

    I wonder how they would hold up against the ant escorts of the aphids. They look kind of soft and squishy.

  2. February 21, 2021

    I understand that the ants are their biggest problem, yes. They are fairly quick, and I think they just play “dodge the ant” a lot. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were able to take a single ant, for that matter. Those jaws are fairly formidable, and they are closely related to ant-lions.

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