Friday, October 8, 2010

Beneficial Bugs: Lacewing

     Besides being an ingredient in polyjuice potion* the lacewing fly is also helpful as a predatory insect. It is actually bred specifically to be released into greenhouses to control pest populations and reduce the amount of pesticides needed! The lacewings are sold and distributed as eggs because when kept in close quarters they’ll turn cannibalistic. The eggs are then distributed through a garden, greenhouse, or field and the eggs hatch and the larvae eat problem insects. One lacewing can eat as many as 150 aphids a week! The list of pest bugs that the lacewing eats is too long to put here, but they are especially keen on mealy bugs and aphids.
    The most common lacewing in North America is the green lacewing which is about 15mm long, with very large wings and bright gold eyes. The larvae are freaky looking, see the photo of the one eating an aphid. They have large pincers that are used to suck the insides out of their prey (yum!)
     Now, don’t get these guys confused with lacebugs, ‘cause lacebugs are bad guys. They cause leaf damage to azaleas and pieris and such.

   *Polyjuice potion is from the Harry Potter books; a potion that when drunk allows you to take on the appearance of another person. Yes, I am nerd in more respects than just plants...

Jessica Watters, GCLP                    Horticulture Technician, Chattahoochee Technical College


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