Thursday, August 9, 2012

My Bug Babies

I have been excitedly looking forward to some impending babies at the Red House Garden.

See all those eggs hanging down from those threads?  Those precious eggs hold what will be Green Lacewing babies.  They are hung on threads to keep them from predators.  The threads are made of mucus that has hardened in the air.
(Nothing like good 'ole mucus to do the job, huh?)

Green Lacewing eggs
The Momma Lacewing bug has carefully chosen her site for her eggs - on my milkweed plant, right next to lots of available food... Maybe you can see the reason why I am so anxious for the eggs to hatch?  (Hint:  the food is bright yellow and moving.)

Yay, they've hatched!  It's now a beautiful bouncing Lacewing larvae!!  
Okay, so maybe it's a face only a mother could love, but I'm still rejoicing:

The Lacewing babies are eating all the aphids that were attacking my milkweed plant.

Lacewing larvae eating aphid
Yum, yum..
Now you can see why the Green Lacewing mother chose my milkweed plant to lay her eggs on - it has lots and lots of baby food on it!

One lacewing egg and lots of yellow aphids
I sense a feast coming..
The only problem is that Lacewing larvae will sometimes show bad manners and eat all the nice butterfly eggs and little caterpillars that might also be sharing a leaf with it - they really don't care what it is, as long as they can eat it.  

I don't know what kind of caterpillar you are, but now might be a good time to exit the milkweed.
The Lacewing babies will eat lots of yummy aphids (around 200 a week) for two to three weeks and then spin a cocoon and pupate, finally emerging as an adult Green Lacewing.

Adult Green Lacewing
In which case the cycle will start again, hopefully until all of my aphids are gone!


  1. Very interesting post and great pics. Go lacewings go! LOL! LT

  2. Indie, I knew many interesting things about Lacewings. Your photos have many details, I could watch the eggs and their food well!

  3. Thank you for your post, I now know what lacewings are and I know I don't have to worry about them in my garden. I have lots of them, they seem to be thriving and I was always curious what they were. I never saw any damage to any plants so I assumed they are harmless, now I know they are also beneficial. Good one, thanks.

  4. Excellent and rare post. Insects, the nitty gritty in many gardens, as diseases, are not discussed often. I do it once in a a couple of links, If I may of what I do in the Caribbean..

  5. Lovely photographs! One of my Asclepias speciosa milkweeds was completely entombed in those golden aphids a few weeks ago. They're very eye-catching for aphids. I wish I had enough lacewings to help get rid of them though. I see them occasionally, but not very often. The aphids are gone now, but so too is the plant. Apparently it wasn't as deer resistant as I'd hoped! ;)

  6. I love the pictures of the hanging eggs...what a great capture...I have begun to see those aphids too so I will hope for the green lacewings.

  7. Nice blog. But it underscores the schizophrenic attitude that many of us exhibit towards insects. Obviously, your aphids are 'bad' but the butterfly caterpillars can do no wrong. They use the same plant for food! Where do we draw the line? Are moth caterpillars 'goodies' or 'baddies'? Milkweed bug nymphs? What would feed your Lacewings if not the aphids? What would birds eat?

  8. How very cool! I've seen lacewings in my garden but never their larvae. The aphids do seem to love milkweed and these are great natural predators. Great captures Indie!

  9. Congrats on the babies! That is the coolest! I had no idea about these and must go check my milkweed for some babies too.

  10. India!
    Your photos are lovely.
    Many of their delicacy.
    I am enchanted by them.

  11. Great photos! And I learned a lot, too! I'll be looking for lacewings in my garden now!

  12. WOW! Thank you for the Lacewing life're never too old to learn (not that I'm old of course)... MR TG will find this interesting too. Now he's old!!! x

  13. I often see those lacewing eggs but don't believe I knew what the larva and pupa looked like. Thanks for the education.

  14. Yum, aphids! No, seriously, that is great to have lacewings to eat the pesky aphids. Did you order the lacewings, or did they show up on their own? How great that you captured them in action!

  15. Thank you for the great post. I like seeing photos of the beneficial (and bad) insects. Everyone should grow milkweed. It is a wildlife magnet.

  16. I really liked that you showed the sequence. Lacewings are such a pretty insect. Garden helpful too.

  17. How neat, eggs hanging on dried up mucus,lol, thank you for this post! My milkweeds are loaded with yellow yummy morsels, but no lacewings here in my yard *sigh*

  18. Update: My milkweeds are now completely aphid-free thanks to the lacewing larvae! I am very glad - I have lost plants to aphids before (when I haven't kept up with spraying them with water).

    I did not order the lacewings at all (and just learned that you could!) They came on their own, thankfully, just in time to stop the invasion.

  19. That little brown and white caterpillar looks enough like bird poop to be a Swallowtail larvae.

  20. This is a semi-permanent choice, you won't be able to spray again until after a waiting period. Some people review get tempted in increasing frequency of sprays.


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