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 ....
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.