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How to Manage Pests

Identification: Natural Enemies Gallery

Green lacewings

Scientific name: Chrysopa spp., Chrysoperla spp.

Life stages of green lacewing Adult Egg Pupa Larva

Click on image to enlarge

Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Neuroptera
Family: Chrysopidae

Common prey: Predaceous on a wide variety of small insects

Commercially available: Yes

DESCRIPTION         Life cycle

Green lacewings are generalist predators and are commonly found in agricultural, landscape, and garden habitats. Adult green lacewings are soft-bodied insects with four membranous wings, golden eyes, and green bodies. Adults often fly at night and are seen when drawn to lights. Some species of green lacewing adults are predaceous, others feed strictly on honeydew, nectar, and pollen. Females lay their tiny, oblong eggs on silken stalks attached to plant tissues. Depending on the species, eggs are laid singly or in clusters, each on an individual stalk. Eggs are green when laid, then darken before hatching. Lacewings undergo complete metamorphosis with eggs hatching about 4 days after being laid, and larvae develop through three instars before pupating. Larvae, which are pale with dark markings, look like tiny alligators. Larvae are flattened, tapered at the tail, measure 3-20 mm (1/8 to 4/5 of an inch) long, have distinct legs, and possess prominent mandibles with which they attack their prey. Larvae prey upon a wide variety of small insects including mealybugs, psyllids, thrips, mites, whiteflies, aphids, small caterpillars, leafhoppers, and insect eggs. Pupation occurs in loosely woven, spherical, silken cocoons attached to plants or under loose bark. All stages of lacewings can survive mild winters and can be found throughout the year in many agricultural areas of California. Green lacewings are commercially available and are among the most commonly released predators. For information on a less common lacewing group, see brown lacewing.

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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