Wire flies

Chrysoperla carnea lacewing biological control agent

This well-known lacewing fly is native to the Netherlands. It can be recognised by its long thin body and colour, green-yellow. The larvae in particular are excellent as biological aphid control agents.  

Aphids (see also second part in this article) Page jump

Aphids are tiny, sap-sucking pests that can wreak havoc in your garden. But you don't need to reach for pesticides - Chrysoperla carnea, also known as the green lacewing, is a natural aphid killer.

What is on the menu of these lacewings? 

Chrysoperla carnea lacewings are generalist predators, meaning they feed on a wide range of soft-bodied insects and mites. Besides aphids, Chrysoperla carnea also feeds on whitefly, thrips, mealy bugs and immature scale insects.

How do you attract these lacewings to your garden? 

The best way to attract Chrysoperla carnea into your garden is to plant a variety of flowers that bloom at different times of the season. In addition, it is wise to create a water source. This can be a shallow dish filled with sand and water. This is where lacewings drink and lay their eggs.

lacewings against aphids

Once you have attracted Chrysoperla carnea lacewings to your garden, there are a few things you can do to keep them around. Provide adequate shelter in the form of dense vegetation or ground cover. And keep an eye on aphid populations - if they start to decline, the lacewings will move on in search of food. This is positive, of course, and in the event of a new infestation, you can order new lacewings online that will quickly restore the population. 

Can lacewings survive the winter? 

Chrysoperla carnea lacewings overwinter as adults in leaf litter, wood piles or other protected areas. To give them enough shelter in your garden, consider adding a layer of mulch (ground cover) around the base of your plants. You can also leave some dead leaves on the ground instead of raking them up.

What are aphids?

Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that feed by sucking sap from plants. They are often called aphids or greenflies. Aphids come in many different colours, including black, brown, green and pink. More than 4,000 species of aphids have been described worldwide.

fighting aphids with lacewings

Which plants are damaged by aphids?

Aphids attack a wide range of plants, including ornamental plants, flowers, vegetables and fruit trees. They can lead to growth disorders, deformed leaves and reduced yields. Some aphid species also transmit plant viruses while feeding.

How big are aphids? 

Aphids are small (1 to 3 mm long), soft-bodied insects that can be winged or wingless. Adults usually have a pair of long antennae and two pairs of wings (if present), which are held roof-shaped over the body. The hind wings are smaller than the forewings and may be vestigial (reduced) or completely absent. Winged adults can fly to new plants to start an infestation.

In some cases, aphids have wings

Most aphids are born without wings, but as populations increase, winged forms may develop to help spread the population to new areas. Under ideal conditions (abundant food supply and suitable temperature), generations of completely wingless females can be produced. However, when food becomes scarce or temperature unsuitable for development, winged forms will develop, allowing the population to move to more favourable conditions.

Monitoring aphid populations

Chrysoperla carnea are effective predators of aphids, but they often cannot handle all aphids. If the aphid population is large, you may need to take additional measures to control them. One way to do this is to release another type of predatory insect, such as ladybirds, in your garden, and you can also order lacewings from an organic pest controller.

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