Of dishwashing & lacewings

An adult lacewing

Years ago when our home was remodeled, my wife and I insisted on installing a fairly large picture window above the kitchen sink. If I was going to spend many hours of my week washing dishes, I wanted to be able to peer out into our side yard and the adjacent woods.

It came as a delightful shock that a number of species are interested in the mundane act of dishwashing. During the day hummingbirds will fly up and look into the window. The busiest time is late-evening, when a myriad of insects and tree frogs shove their little noses to the glass to watch. (In my imagination, they offer helpful tips on the proper techniques of the craft.) 

One insect that shows up on late-summer evenings is the green lacewing (Chrysoperia carnea). This insect’s wings, which are held like a roof over their bodies, are see-through with a delicate infrastructure of veins visible throughout.

As a nymph, the lacewing is alligator-shaped and nearly as ferocious as one when they devour aphids, caterpillers and mites, the likes of which enjoy eating your garden vegetables almost as much as you do.

As adults lacewings eat nectar, pollen and aphid honeydew. They are frequently lauded as a beneficial pest, like in this Minnesota Extension Service fact sheet.