Lacewings

13 November, 2010

Lacewing eggs.
Lacewing eggs.
Image: Arturs Neboiss
Source: Museum Victoria

Question: What laid these beautiful eggs?

Answer: These eggs actually belong to a species of insect commonly known as a lacewing (Order Neuroptera). Lacewings or Neuropterans are so named because of their beautiful lacy looking wings. While some species lay their eggs directly into or on a substrate, others attach their eggs to fine stalks. There are more than 600 species of lacewing found in Australia and the majority of species are endemic.

The larvae of some species of lacewing are known as antlions; they look nothing like the adult form and have large jaws which they use to grab their prey. They build a steep sided or cone shaped pit and wait at the bottom for their prey to stumble in. If the unfortunate prey is making a successful attempt to climb out of the pit antlions can flick grains of sand and dirt at the insect, causing it to lose its footing and fall to the bottom where the antlion is waiting.

Adult lacewings are often attracted to lights and may enter homes in some numbers. They are usually of benefit to people as they feed on a number of insect species, including pest species. Some species may emit an unpleasant smell if handled.

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