Friday, April 22, 2016

The Amazing Eyes of a Green Lacewing


We found half a dozen of these green lacewings fluttering against the window of a bird-watching hide at Low Barns Nature Reserve yesterday. They must have hibernated in there. We let them all go but before that I took a few photographs, because these common insects can be surprisingly hard to spot in the open.


They have the most beautiful gauzy wings and eyes like jewels but their colour varies depending on the way that they are lit.




































The two photos above are with the camera's built-in flash but ....


... this one is with natural light. Notice how the spots on the abdomen show up so much clearer with this illumination. Flash can sometimes conceal important identification features, which is one of the reasons why identifying insects from photos can be tricky ....



































Flash can also create strong reflections from shiny surfaces, like the wings of this insect, that are folded over the body like a tent.



































Perhaps the most striking fetaure of these insects when they are photographed with flash is their eyes, which resemble glowing red, green and yellow jewels. In natural daylight they seem to be golden but with flash internal reflection and refraction within the separate lenses of the eye create this multi-colour starburst effect.







































Lacewings, in the larval and adult stages of their life cycle, are great allies for the gardener, consuming large numbers of aphids. This is a lacewing egg, on a long stalk on the underside of a hawthorn leaf, with the larva just hatching.

 It is a voracious greenfly consumer, impaling its prey on powerful jaws and they carrying around the empty skin of its victim on those hairs on its back. There are some pictures of one, resembling a miniature walking compost heap, here.


10 comments:

  1. I'll keep an eye out for these as their eyes are stunning. a close shot would be wonderful.

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    1. I wish now that I had looked at the eyes of one under the microscope. Next time .....

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  2. Amazingly, Phil, I too was in a bird hide yesterday, and trying to photograph the lacewings on the glass of the hide windows! There must have been at least 40 of them! As I was on duty there (primarily to record, and talk to the visitors about, the Ospreys), I picked one up by the wings (a Lacewing, not an Osprey!) a couple of times and was showing people those wonderful eyes. I'd only ever seen them look gold as I'd not ever used flash on them.

    Last year I saw one of the blue-winged lacewings (the first I've ever noticed) at the same location (but adult, and outside the hide), and it looked fabulous.

    Keep up the good work. Best wishes - - - - Richard

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    1. What a remarkable coincidence, Richard. Now I'm wondering whether to embark on a systematic survey of bird hides as wildlife habitats......1 All the best, Phil

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  3. I miss Lacewings, I used to get them indoors, frequently in the past. I love looking at them, they are so ephemeral.

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    1. these were the first I've seen for quite a while....

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