If IPM practitioners had to name one of the most useful beneficial insects to release, it would likely be green lacewing. While its go-to dish is colonies of aphids, this generalist predator also feeds on a large variety of pests, including thrips, mealybugs, spider mites, leafhoppers, and even diamondback moths and asian-citrus psyllids making it both a great preventative and curative biocontrol option.
Green lacewing adult
Green lacewing larvae
Green lacewing eggs
Lacewing larvae use their sharp mandibles to pierce the body of their prey and then inject enzymes that break down the internal organs of the insect. Yes, scary. Good thing that they don’t measure more than 1/4 – 1/3 inch and don’t go after humans.
It is in their larval stage that green lacewings are voracious predators. A single lacewing larvae can eat over 100 aphids per day! Adult lacewing feed on nectar and pollen, so they do not continue to consume pests after they have reached maturity. But they are beautiful and will lay eggs of the next generation of our favourite killing-larvae.
While it can be an effective ally to control pest existing outbreaks, the fact that it is a generalist predator also makes it an ideal choice for preventive treatment. Unlike some more specialist natural enemies, it can hang out in your crops even with low population of the targeted pest, feeding on a diversified source of food and being ready to control a potential pest outbreak.
Lacewings can be released as eggs or larvae. Both have pros and cons so the final choice will depend on the specificity of your farm and your existing pest pressure. Eggs are a more affordable option, but they might suffer from ant predation, so the release rate should be increased to take this into account. While commercial insectaries usually provide eggs that are close to hatching, you might need to wait a few days before having an active population going after your pests. Larvae on the other hand will be ready to hunt as soon as they are released.
What lacewings prefers for dinner
Let’s say it, lacewings are likely the best aphid predators out there.
It also feeds on a large variety of other pests such thrips, mealybugs, spider mites, leafhopper nymphs, and even diamondback moths and asian-citrus psyllids. While there might be some more prey-specific beneficials for some of those pests or lacewing might need some complementary control tools, they can be a great preventive option, especially for organic growers with limited pest treatment options and for pests with no specific natural enemies.
Some of the crops green lacewings call home:
Being such a generalist predator, the list of crop hosts is very long. They are commonly released in vineyards and orchards, in leafy green, and in a variety of vegetables, cannabis, hemp, and much more.
Wine & Table Grapes
Leafy Greens & Vegetables
Lacewings preferred environmental conditions:
Lacewings tolerate a wide range of temperatures but are most active at an average temperature above 54°F. They perform best around 68-90 °F
Can green lacewings be released by drone?
Yes, green lacewings can be released by drone, both at the eggs and larvae stages.
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