Click on the photos to check the identification of these locals
40+ species of lacewing have been recorded on the Co-op since 2015
The majority of these have come to the lights on the west side of the house that faces a downward slope to a gully below. This is an ideal position for attracting moths and the lacewing sightings were initially a by-product of efforts to record the moths of the area.
Generally, the internal house lights are left on, with reasonable numbers of insects coming to the windows. Occasionally, mostly on warm nights, a light sheet and a 250-Watt Mercury Vapour globe are used; this attracts a much larger variety of species.
In the Lacewing List for the Co-op, there is a link to the iNaturalist record for each species. Once this is opened, more general data for the species is available by clicking on the species thumbnail icon.
Lacewings are invertebrates that are classified in their own Order – the Neuroptera. They are characterised with wings that have both longitudinal and transverse veins. They are a varied lot with 14 families in Australia, each with at least one representative in Victoria. There are over 600 species in Australia and about 120 of these have been recorded in Victoria, many of them only once, or a few times.
Local records cover the following 8 families: -
Mantis Flies – these have raptorial forelegs. The clear membranous wings differentiate these from the separate order of Praying Mantids.
Antlions – most larvae make the classic inverted conical pits in sandy soil to trap ants and other insects.
Owlflies – have clubbed antennae and an unusual stance with downward hanging wings. Larvae have very large jaws.
Green Lacewings – perhaps the most commonly seen, generally with green bodies and long, slender filiform antennae. They lay small white eggs on the tips of hairlike stalks.
Osmylids – another varied group, some with spectacular coloured wing patterns.
Brown Lacewings – a number of small species often with brown, oddly shaped wings. Some larvae are sold commercially for biological control of aphids etc.
Split-footed Lacewings – a varied group, with some easily mistaken for green lacewings.
Beaded Lacewings – have hairy bodies and wings - very uncommon in Victoria, but 2 of 3 records of an as yet unnamed species have been recorded here.
Most lacewings are active predators, with sucking mouthparts, both in the larval and adult stages. Victorian species have wingspans varying from about 100mm down to a tiny 5mm.
Lacewings are preyed upon by birds, bats and arthropods. Some adults have foul defensive odours, some larvae use a covering of debris or prey bodies for camouflage.
Identification can be very tricky. There is a good series of 8 articles, by Ken Harris, published in the Victorian Entomologist between 2015 and 2017, covering the known Victorian species. A book is now under preparation by the Victorian Entomological Society. Body markings, wing shape & venation, facial pattern etc. can be important ID features.
Brown lacewing larva
Brown lacewing being consumed by Sundew
Superficially similar looking beasts found in our area are:
Dobsonflies – order Megaloptera (larvae have chewing mouth parts)
Stoneflies – order Plecoptera (2 filaments at tip of abdomen)
Caddisflies – order Trichoptera (hairy wings with few vertical veins).
For 1/3 of the known Victorian Species to have been recorded in our local area is a testament to the exceptional quality and biodiversity of our environment.
It is yet another strong justification for the special environmentally focused planning provisions, and the significant effort expended, through our strategic Flora Management Program, to minimise weeds and to enhance the diversity of the indigenous plants.
Green lacewing larva with camouflage
A Field Guide to INSECTS in Australia by Paul Zborowski and Ross Storey
Victorian Entomologist Vol. 45 No.6; Vol. 46 Nos. 1, 3, 5, 6; Vol. 47 Nos. 2, 3, 5 Vol. 50 No. 3
If anyone finds an unusual Lacewing, or needs some identification assistance, email Frank Pierce as a first step. Referral to others with better knowledge may be required!