Lacewings to the Rescue

Grant Howell – head butterfly honcho for the Butterflies LIVE! exhibit at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden – was unhappy to see a swarm of yellow aphids attacking a milkweed plant being groomed for the butterfly habitat. It wasn’t all gloom & doom, because Grant’s trained eyes spotted a string of lacewing eggs, along with a few adult lacewings. The lacewing larvae have a voracious appetite for aphids. Grant’s next concern will be ants, because ants enjoy the honeydew produced by aphids – to the extent that the ants will defend the aphids by consuming the lacewing eggs.

Yellow aphids on a milkweed plant. Sure, the yellow color looks cool against the bright green foliage, but aphids are awful, nasty pests.

Leila Hermes holds a milkweed leaf for us to see the tiny lacewing eggs dangling from silky strands.

Leila points out a brown lacewing adult, while Grant’s yellow tinted fingers bear the evidence of yellow aphid removal.

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