Lacewings (Order Neuroptera)
Superorder: Endopterygota or Neuropterida
Neuropterans are soft-bodied insects with relatively few specialised features. They have large lateral compound eyes, and may or may not also have ocelli. Their mouthparts have strong mandibles suitable for chewing and lack the various adaptations found in most other endopterygote insect groups.
They have four wings, which are usually similar in size and shape, have a generalised pattern of veins. Some Neuropterans have specialised sense organs in their wings or have bristles or other structures to link their wings together during flight.
The larvae are specialised predators, with elongated mandibles adapted for piercing and sucking. The larval body form varies between different families, depending on the nature of their prey. In general, however, they have three pairs of thoracic legs, each ending in two claws. The abdomen often has adhesive discs on the last two segments.
The larvae of most families are predators. Many chrysopids eat aphids and other pest insects, and have been used for biological control (either from commercial distributors but also abundant and widespread in nature). Larvae in various families cover themselves in debris (sometimes including dead prey insects) as camouflage, taken to an extreme in the antlions, which bury themselves completely out of sight and ambush prey from "pits" in the soil. Larvae of some Ithonidae are root feeders, and larvae of Sisyridae are aquatic and feed on freshwater sponges. A few mantispids are parasites of spider egg sacs.
As in other holometabolic orders, there is a pupal stage, generally enclosed in some form of cocoon composed of silk and soil or other debris. The pupa eventually cuts its way out of the cocoon with its mandibles, and may even move about for a short while before undergoing the moult to the adult form. Adults of many groups are also predatory, but some do not feed, or consume only nectar.
A lacewing (Species unknown)
Lacewing larvae are beneficial insects and are voracious predators capable of feeding on small caterpillars and beetles, as well as aphids and other insects. They are a light brown and have a large pair of hooked jaws sticking out from the front of the head. They drive their jaws into soft-bodied insects or eggs before sucking up the contents.
Brown lacewing, nymph about 5mm long. Commonly called an Antlion.
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