Lacy Wings

23 Aug
Green lacewing on flowers (Chrysopidae).

A green lacewing perches on a flower stem.

I caught this little guy right before he took off from the tip of a flower stem.  Lacewings are members of order Neuroptera,which includes both green and brown lacewings mantispids (mantisflies), and antlions.  Neuroptera means ‘nerve-winged,’ in reference to the intricate venation of the members’ wings.  They are closely related to, and are sometimes classified with, the orders Megaloptera and Raphidioptera, the dobsonflies, fishflies, and serpentflies, all of which also share similarly complex wing venation.

The green lacewing family, Chrysopidae, takes its name from the greek word “chryso” for “gold” for the nearly metallic toned eyes were are often conspicuously golden.  The macrophotography blog Four Ages of the Sand has a gorgeous close up of a lacewing eye. Somewhat like dragonflies, lacewings and other neuropterans are predatory, both as larvae and adults.  Because of this they are popular for pest control, and eggs are often purchased and distributed in large quantities in greenhouses or agricultural fields.  On the other hand, in some situations this same quality may make them a pest insect themselves.  For instance, some scale insects are used for commercial red dyes, and lacewings may prey on farmed populations of these insects.

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