Loving those voracious lacewings

Credit: Linda Gilkeson

As it flutters delicately through the evening on filmy wings, the adult lacewing certainly lives up to its name. Juvenile lacewings, on the other hand, are fierce, quick and efficient little predators. They are mottled brown, alligator-shaped larvae with long curved jaws for piercing their prey, and they are valuable predators of small, soft insects, including aphids, thrips, caterpillars and scale, as well as mites and insect eggs.

The fragile adults are pale green or brown (about 1⁄2 in./1 cm long), with slender bodies and two pairs of wings covered with a fine network of veins. They eat pollen and nectar, so attract them to your garden by planting flowers with a rich supply: coriander/cilantro, dill, feverfew, yarrow and daisies.

Watch for the distinctive eggs, which are laid on the undersides of leaves and along leaf ribs – each egg is perched at the tip of a fine stalk. Lacewing eggs are sold through some garden outlets to control aphids and other insects, but look closely at your infested plants before you buy – those voracious larvae are probably already there.