Insect of the Week: the Green Lacewing

Adapted from pages 620-621 of Garden Insects of North America:

Several species of green lacewings commonly frequent yards and gardens, most in the genera Chrysopa or Chrysoperla. Adults are generally pale green insects with clear, highly veined wings they hold over the body when at rest. Some species turn a light brown during cold weather. They are delicate and very attractive insects that feed primarily on nectar, pollen, and honeydew, although adults in the genus Chrysopa also feed on small insects. The females lay a distinctive stalked egg, approximately 1/2 inch in height. Eggs may be laid in small groups or singly on leaves of plants throughout the yard.

An adult green lacewing. Photo credit: David Shetlar.

Lacewing larvae emerge from the egg in about a week. These larvae, sometimes called “aphid lions,” are voracious predators capable of feeding on a wide range of insects, including small caterpillars and beetles as well as aphids and other insects. They are perhaps best marked by their large sickle-shaped jaws that project from the head. The body is elongate, usually a bit thicker in the middle, and most lacewing larvae are some shade of light brown to nearly white. However, these features are obscured by the larvae of some “trash-carrying” species that pile the carcasses of prey, small bits of lichen, and other debris on their body, an effective camouflage from some predators that also allows them to escape detection by aphid-tending ants. Pupation occurs in a nearly spherical, pale-colored cocoon often attached loosely to leaves or needles.

Some Chrysoperla species are produced commercially in insectary facilities. These are sold, often as eggs, for use in biological control of aphids and caterpillars in certain vegetable and greenhouse crops and interiorscapes.

Garden Insects of North America: The Ultimate Guide to Backyard Bugs
Second Edition
By Whitney Cranshaw & David Shetlar

This second edition of Garden Insects of North America solidifies its place as the most comprehensive guide to the common insects, mites, and other “bugs” found in the backyards and gardens of the United States and Canada. Featuring 3,300 full-color photos and concise, detailed text, this fully revised book covers the hundreds of species of insects and mites associated with fruits and vegetables, shade trees and shrubs, flowers and ornamental plants, and turfgrass—from aphids and bumble bees to leafhoppers and mealybugs to woollybears and yellowjacket wasps—and much more. This new edition also provides a greatly expanded treatment of common pollinators and flower visitors, the natural enemies of garden pests, and the earthworms, insects, and other arthropods that help with decomposing plant matter in the garden.

Designed to help you easily identify what you find in the garden, the book is organized by where insects are most likely to be seen—on leaves, shoots, flowers, roots, or soil. Photos are included throughout the book, next to detailed descriptions of the insects and their associated plants.

An indispensable guide to the natural microcosm in our backyards, Garden Insects of North America continues to be the definitive resource for amateur gardeners, insect lovers, and professional entomologists.

  • Revised and expanded edition covers most of the insects, mites, and other “bugs” one may find in yards or gardens in the United States and Canada—all in one handy volume
  • Features more than 3,300 full-color photos, more than twice the illustrations of the first edition
  • Concise, informative text organized to help you easily identify insects and the plant injuries that they may cause


This post is part of a series, explore additional posts here<< Insect of the Week: the Bumble BeeInsect of the Week: the Emerald Ash Borer >>