Jul 13th, 2012

Lacewings to the Rescue

Photos & text by Albert Brian Vick,  Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Community Kitchen Garden Coordinator

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.

Jonah Holland is Digital Content Manager at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, where she has worked for 14 years overseeing social media, the blog, and the website. She is also a mom, yogi, open water swimmer, gardener, and seeker. She's been known to go for a walk in the Garden and come back with hundreds of plant photos, completely inspired to write her next blog post.

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