Lacewings

Lacewings (Order Neuroptera) are a relatively small group of insects with around 5000 different species worldwide and more than 600 species known from Australia.

They range in size from the minute "dusty-wings" (Family Coniopterygidae) with wingspans as small as 5 mm, to Australia’s largest, Heloclisus fulva, an inland antlion with a wingspan up to 15 cm. Lacewings have two pairs of delicate wings, usually with a dense network of veins. Most have a weak, floppy flight, but some such as owl flies and the uniquely Australian stilbopterygines (a special group of antlions) are fast, agile fliers that resemble dragonflies.

Australia’s largest group of lacewings are the antlions (around 250 species) which are particularly common in arid and semiarid areas. Adult and larval lacewings are mostly predators. Some groups such as green lacewings (Family Chrysopidae) and brown lacewings (Family Hemerobiidae) are beneficial in crops and gardens feeding on plant pests such as aphids, scale insects and moth eggs and caterpillars.

Adults of many lacewing species are active at night and often attracted to lights, but others are active during the day.

Stilbopteryx walkeri (Stilbopterygidae)Stilbopteryx walkeri (Stilbopterygidae).

Mantid Lacewing (Austromantispa imbecilla)Mantid Lacewing (Austromantispa imbecilla).

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