No doubt you will have heard that ladybirds are very welcome in gardens. This is because they simply love to guzzle aphids. Aphids are known as greenfly, blackfly or whitefly and are real pests to our plant life. Not only to the flowers in our gardens, but also fruits, vegetables and even indoor plants.
There is another insect which also thrives on aphids. It is not as well-known as the ladybird, yet it’s still a common visitor to our gardens. Its name is the lacewing.
Lacewings are usually a light green colour and are recognised by their delicate-looking wings which look a little like lace, hence their name. If you manage to get close enough to one, check out their eyes which are normally a dark metallic gold colour. They are around 1-2cm in length, although there is a giant variety which has a wingspan of up to 5cm. The giants usually hang around ponds and water – and you might mistake one for a dragonfly.
Generally speaking, they are slow fliers and therefore easily caught by predators. Because of this, they tend to wait until evening before coming out as there are fewer predators around. However, which flying mammal is also out & about in the evening looking for insects? Yes – the bat. Lacewings have a neat trick when bats are around. First of all, they have very good hearing and so are able to hear a bat’s ultrasound call. If they happen to be flying, they will close their wings (which makes their echo locational signature smaller). In addition, they will also drop down to the ground to further avoid detection. Clever little lacewings!
If you want to give someone an unusual birthday gift this summer, how about a ‘bug box’ as a funky idea? These wooden homes attract ladybirds and lacewings – and most green-fingered gardeners would be delighted to put one in their garden to help control pesky pests such as aphids. To purchase a bug box, go to RSPB and follow the link in the blue box to their online shop.