One of these – a Common Green Lacewing – flew in our window. They are another invertebrate with wildly contrasting life stages. The delicate adult feeds on nectar, pollen and honeydew. They over-winter in leaf litter, emerging in the warmth of Spring. The female lays hundreds of oval eggs, attaching them by stalks to plants near food sources. The subsequent larvae are ferocious little predators, with an appearance to match. They have large, pincer-like mandibles, and use these to catch a huge variety of insects, sometimes lifting them up to prevent escape. They then inject their victim with enzymes which digest their internal organs. The resulting fluid is then sucked out! Added to this, if food is scarce, they will eat each other. This carnage stops after two to three weeks, when they secrete silk to create a cocoon. Roughly two weeks later the adult emerges. The larvae’s ability to eat their way through colonies of aphids, for example, is important in pest control, protecting crops as varied as Egyptian cotton and French grapes.
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