Lacewings are best known as a predator of aphids, and fully deserve the nickname "aphid lion" as a single insect can consume 100-600 aphids in its lifetime.
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Adults hibernate over winter, and breed in the summer. The first larvae to emerge are brown, about 4mm long, with sharp nipping claws at the front (beware!). The older larvae are paler, about 13mm long, with bristles on their back. Lacewings are supplied as juveniles, or larvae depending on the time of year.
Lacewings, Chrysoperla Carnea, are common flying insects about 12 - 15mm with green bodies and lovely delicate green lacy wings which lie folded on their back when at rest. The adults eat only honey, pollen, and nectar, which they need to reproduce.
Lacewings appear to be the answer to every conservatory owner’s prayer: the larvae are voracious eaters and devour quantities of greenfly, red spider mite, whitefly eggs, mealybug, scale insect, thrips and caterpillars! They are also tolerant of low levels of pesticide residue, and are naturally occurring in the UK, so if they escape they are useful to your garden and the general environment. They will feed on pollen when no insect prey is available.
The only disadvantages are that they will generally fly off when they hatch into adults; and they will eat beneficial insects as well as pests. They can be used to clean up bad infestations any time in the season where no other biological controls need to be preserved. They are very effective later in the Summer, when it is too late to introduce the other controls which take too long to build up their populations to become fully effective in the time available. i.e. after July.
To give you an idea of their appetites, during its 2-3 week life, one lone lacewing larva can eat 300-400 aphids, 11,200 spider mites, or 3780 scale insects! With 70 of these in your conservatory, they can make a huge difference.
Inside your shaker tub will be the lacewing larvae amongst an inert carrier, usually bran husks. The lacewing larvae are very small and may be difficult to spot.
Instructions for use
Very gently rotate and roll the shaker tub to evenly distribute the lacewing larvae amongst the carrier. Sprinkle the contents of the tube on to lower leaves of affected plants or into small paper cones placed amongst the leaves.
Lacewings are not killed off by cool temperatures, but their life cycle is significantly slowed up, which may mean that pest populations greatly increase in the time the Lacewing eggs take to hatch when temperatures are low. As with most biological controls, the best range is 15 - 30°C, and temperatures above 30°C will be detrimental to their effectiveness. At 22°C, the eggs take one week to hatch; at 15°C they take 2 weeks to hatch, and at 28°C only a few days.