Green Lacewings come indoors to keep warm
Published 15/10/2016 | 00:00
Have seen a Green Lacewing lately? I've just finished examining one perched motionless at eye level on the curtain of our bathroom window.
They are very common insects and are widely distributed but they can be difficult to spot out of doors as they are green in colour like most leaves and their wings are almost transparent except for the delicate, lace-like tracery of veins.
While they are so well camouflaged and difficult to spot out of doors, they are of topical interest at the moment. They overwinter as adults and they like to come indoors into our homes where it is warmer and cosier than it is outside during the winter months.
Those that stay outside must find somewhere dry and sheltered in which to sit out the long dark days and nights before the arrival of next spring.
The recent touches of frost drove many of them to seek shelter indoors and their pale apple green colour that provided such brilliant camouflage against green foliage during the summer is now of no use to them so they show up very well when perched on pale surfaces.
The good news is that they are completely harmless. They don't sting, bite, carry disease or do anything nasty. They do provide excellent biological control in gardens and greenhouses as their young feast on greenfly, other aphids, mites and small caterpillars. The adults eat pollen and drink nectar and honeydew.
Since their green colour is of no advantage to them indoors they slowly change colour from green to brown. Before they change, the green veins in the four transparent wings can, on close examination, be seen to have touches of blue and turquoise iridescence.
Their eyes are large and bulging and also have patches of iridescence, this time fiery reds, glossy golds and flamboyant oranges reminiscent of the lovely warm colours to be seen in an opal.
When at rest, the Green Lacewing folds its four, delicate wings over its back making a shape like a pitched roof, a tent or a bar of Toblerone. Its long, thread-like antennae are nearly as long as its slim, cigar-shaped body.
Our National Biodiversity Data Centre puts the number of species of insect recorded in Ireland to date at 11,422. To impose some order on that large collection of life forms, insects are classified into 21 groups called 'orders'. One of these groups, Order Neuroptera, comprise 32 species of lacewings and related net-winged insects.