Sunday, November 14, 2010

Green Lacewing Larva

It’s not unusual on a windy day to have bits of stuff blow across the surface of the picnic table. When the wind stops, but bits of material continue their journey across the table top, it’s time to do some investigating. This quarter inch ball of material blew into view from the right along with some other bits of leaves and twigs. When the wind gust subsided, this item slowly made its way back the way it had come. This was either a supernatural event or something was alive inside that ball.

I assumed that the responsible party was some small animal, even though supernatural would have been really neat. Flipping the mass over got me a look at the creature. Using bits of lichen, moss, and various other materials, a Green Lacewing larva had constructed a camouflage covering over its body. The two curved projections on the left side of the body are the mandibles with which the predatory larva captures its food.

The larva would right itself almost as quickly as I could turn it over, so it was hard to get a descent shot. In an attempt to get a picture of the head and body, I popped it into a small glass jar and took shots from beneath. The curved glass tended to distort the image, but I did get a shot that shows the shape of the head and jaws. Aphids are a primary prey item for this cunning predator. I suppose the camo blanket would also be good protection from ants that might be protecting the aphids.

The larvae use a variety of locally available material in the construction of their covering. This specimen just seems to disappear when placed on the bark of a tree. Even though this is a common insect, it’s not one that I often see. Since I would probably never notice a larva hidden like this one is on a tree, I should probably say that I just don’t notice them very often. If you haven’t yet found it in the picture, it’s the circular patch located just down and left of center.


  1. Fascinating!! Whoever would have thought??

  2. Hi Steve..Now that is very interesting!!
    I'm going to be on the look out for innocent looking object from now on!!

  3. This is really quite awesome. The second shot of the fluff ball with those sickle-like mandibles peeking out is fantastic! I think I'm going to go outside and poke some lichen.

  4. Very cool! Very ingenuitive use of the jar. Their eggs are awesome as well, hanging from little threads on the vegetation like little Christmas ornaments. Have seen it photographed, but never found it myself.

  5. Hi, Karen. Things like this always make me wonder what else I’m missing.

    Hi, grammie g. It’s hard telling what innocent little things you’ll find roaming around in Maine.

    Thanks, TGIQ. I hope you find something neat hiding in the lichen.

    I’m glad you enjoyed it, Debbie.

    Thanks, Janet. It’s hard to find any jars with quality, distortion free glass. I’ll have to see if I can make a little box with flat glass top and bottom to hold specimens for photography.