Quick ID Brown Lacewing

Quick ID
Brown Lacewings


Southern Ontario species:

Note: Micromus species have small eyes. The others all have large eyes.
Micromus posticus has wider, shorter wings with a darker zig-zag vein line near wing tip. Small eyes. Legs yellow.
Micromus subanticus has longer, narrower wings. A raised, dark tiny spot midway between eye and mouth. Otherwise, the two are identical. Small eyes. Legs yellow.

The Striped Hemerobius humulinus has a dark stripe extending from back of eye, down side of neck (pronotum) to the thorax. Vague, jagged stripes on wings. Light to white legs.
Hemerobius stigma has darker head (no stripes), one zig-zag line of darker veins on wings. Also has a long reddish-orange stigma on wing edge, and darker legs.

Wesmaelius nervosus (eastern Ont.) Rare. Has a series of dark stripes (3 to 5) along top (posterior) margin projecting inward to centre of wing. Each side of wing tip has black and white checkered appearance. Legs black, white on shins (tibiae).
Wesmaelius subnebulosus (eastern Ont.). Wings pale with no obvious marks, but veins darker mid wing. Yellow stripe from top of head, continuing down thorax; hairy. Legs yellow.

Psectra diptera Rare. Very small, more yellowish (4 to 4.5 mm long). Antenna longer than body. Found in grass.

Sympherobius amiculus Dark head and thorax. First 1/3 of antenna segments dark, rest light. Wings have checkered or at least black smudges along top (posterior) edge. Wings spotted. Legs yellow, tips of each segment slightly darker. Sold commercially for control of scale on trees.
Sympherobius occidentalis Small (6 mm long). Very dark species with yellowish U-shape on thorax. Wings almost black.

Micromus posticus

Brown Lacewing
Micromus posticus

Head: Light reddish-brown to yellowish. No dark marks.
Antenna: Yellowish-white. Tips slightly darker.
Thorax: Light reddish-brown with a few light spots.
Wings: Light with dark flecks, darker at base; almost checkered along upper (inside) border. Two thin diagonal dark lines, one mid-wing and one nearer wing tip which has another line jutting off at a right angle, sometimes touching the first diagonal line. Veins pale yellowish-brown with dark flecks.
Legs: Pale yellowish, toes darker. Front and mid shins (tibiae) may have one or two faint dark bands on each leg.
Abdomen: Dark reddish-brown.

Similar Species: Micromus subanticus has longer, narrower wings and a dark mark on each side of the face. Micromus angulatus has three diagonal stripes, two with right angles off them.

Size: 6 to 9 mm to wing tip.

Flight Time: March and April, again in July to November.

Habitat: Forest edges, both deciduous and conifer; meadows.

Food: Aphids and other soft-bodied insects.

Life Cycle: Females can lay up to approximately 60 eggs per day. . Larvae have 3 instars. Larva do not cover themselves with debris. Adults live about 3 weeks. Assumed that adults over-winter.  4 to 5 generations per year.
Parasites: Ichneumon Wasp Charitopes mellicornis

Comments: Essex County – Point Pelee National Park, Erie Islands and Ojibway Prairies. Kent County – Rondeau Provincial Park. LaSage in Biodiversity Data Journal, 2013, Vol. 1 believes M. posticus is rare. Only 23 specimens collected in Ontario in the last 100 years.

For information on synonyms, references and type specimens see next page

Micromus subanticus

Brown Lacewing
Micromus subanticus

Head: Face long, reddish-yellow with a dark mark on each side of centre, mid face. Some brownish shading on top of head.
Antenna: Pale yellowish.
Thorax: Neck (prothorax) and thorax brownish-yellow. Older individuals darker, or with brownish spots.
Wings: Very narrow, 4 times as long as wide, tips blunt. A central dark spot about 1/3 from wing base. A series of 4 or 5 faint, darker marks on veins nearer wing tip. No other marks.
Legs: Pale yellowish.
Abdomen: Light brown, covered with brown pile.

Main ID: Long, reddish-yellow face with dark, curved mark between eyes and mouth on each side. Long, narrow wings.

Similar Species: Micromus angulatus and Micromus posticus both have shorter, wider wings and obvious diagonal lines in the wings. Neither have dark marks on the face.

Size: 7 to 9 mm to wing tip.

Habitat: Meadows and grassy areas.

Food: Both adults and larvae are predators of soft-bodied insects, aphids.

Flight Time: June and July.

Life Cycle: Unknown. Usually found in grass clumps where they run rather than fly. Will play dead.
Parasite: Ichneumon Wasp Anacharis species.

Comments: Kent County – Rondeau Provincial Park. Present in Essex County, but not on any list.

For information on synonyms, references and type specimens see next page

Hemerobius stigma

Brown Lacewing
Hemerobius stigma


Head: Head reddish-brown, shiny. Eyes dark brown. Top of head may be somewhat lighter.
Antenna: Long, yellow ringed with dark.
Thorax: Dark reddish-brown, shiny. Neck (pronotum) may have a faint, pale stripe down center.
Wings: Light reddish-brown to yellowish-brown. Veins dotted with cream-colour dots that appear raised or bubble-like along the veins. Stigma at end of costal area has a reddish tint.
Legs: Yellowish-brown, feet slightly darker.
Abdomen: Dark yellowish-brown abdomen. No marks.

Main ID: Veins dotted with cream-colour dots that appear raised or bubble-like along the veins.

Similar Species: The Striped Brown Lacewing Hemerobius humulinus has shorter antenna, yellow thorax, dark patches on the wings and obvious stripe from eyes continuing down sides of neck (pronotum).

Size: 8 to 11 mm to wing tip.

Flight Time: April to May, again September to October.

Habitat: Forests and orchards. Prefers coniferous forests – especially pine.

Food: Prefers the balsam twig aphid Mindarus abietinus in Christmas tree plantations, also Woolly aphid Adelges piceae and Pine Bark Aphid Pineus strobi.

Life Cycle: This species has either two generations, or it hibernates as an adult during the summer. Also over-winters as an adult or pre-pupa. In early spring, the adults mate and eggs are deposited about two weeks later. The adult females and the eggs are extremely cold-tolerant (Garland 1981b). Eggs are laid singly, on fir needles or between bud scales. Eggs hatch in about 11 days, depending on the temperature.
Parasite: Gall Wasp Anacharis species.

Comments: Essex County – Point Pelee. Kent County – Rondeau Provincial Park.

For information on synonyms, references and type specimens see next page

Hemerobius humulinus

Striped Brown Lacewing
Hemerobius humulinus


Head: Yellowish-white with a dark stripe behind eyes, extending to collar (pronotum).
Antenna: Long – to mid-wing. Whitish, faintly ringed with dark brown, very tip dark is usually not visible.
Thorax: Yellowish-white with dark stripe on each side of collar (pronotum) from back of eye.
Wings: Wings clear to light tan, with intermittent flecks of brown. Base of wings has a dark patch. Two slanted dark stripes, one mid-wing with a dark patch at top wing edge, and the other, usually incomplete near wing tip. Stripes can sometimes be faded.
Legs: Uniformly yellowish-white.
Abdomen: Yellowish with dark brown to black spots on each side. Lighter on underside.

Main ID: Dark stripe down each side of neck from eye to thorax.

Size: 10 mm long.

Flight Time: March to April; again from Sept to Oct.

Habitat: Deciduous trees, apple orchards.

Food: Both adults and larvae are predators of soft-bodied insects like mites, mealy bugs and aphids.

Life Cycle: The Striped Brown Lacewing is predominant in apple orchards in southern Ontario. One of the earliest to fly in spring, and the last to leave in the fall. Females lay hundreds of whitish eggs on fruit buds, leaves and in bark crevices. Eggs are not stalked (on a foot pad or pulvillus) like green lacewings. Hatching occurs in about 5 days. Larvae, sometimes called aphid wolves, are light brown with reddish-brown stripes and spots. Three instars or molts, they mature from 11 to 22 days. The larvae stay in debris on the ground, or on plants, usually carrying bits of debris on their back. They can over-winters as adults, mature larvae, or hibernate in a loose net-like, see-through dome cocoon. Several generations in spring, and again in the fall.

Comments: Essex County – Ojibway Prairies. Kent County – Rondeau Provincial Park.

For information on synonyms, references and type specimens see next page

Brown Lacewings Hemerobiidae

Brown Lacwings

Identification: Similar to Green Lacewings (Chrysopidae). Brown lacewings are smaller, wings more rounded and somewhat hairy at wing edges. Veins at wing edges are more numerous and branched.

Size: 6-15 mm

Life Cycle: Females lay between 30 to 40 eggs (not stalked like Green Lacewings), singly on leaves, twigs or bark. Both adults and larvae eat smaller insects, particularly aphids and mealy bugs. Liquid food is drawn up through mandibles on larvae. Adults have chewing mouth parts. Larvae do not cover themselves with aphid debris, like Green lacewings. Short larval period from 12 to 24 days with 3 instars, the 3 being the longest and sometimes lasting 3 weeks. Several broods lasting from spring to fall. Cocoon structures are net-like, see-through rounded domes. Green lacewing cocoon are white and solid.

Seventeen species of Brown Lacewings are listed for Ontario. Over half of them are extremely rare and northern.

The common species in southern Ontario (7):
Hemerobius humulinus – Striped Brown Lacewing
Hemerobius stigma
Micromus posticus
Micromus subanticus
Psectra diptera
Sympherobius amiculus
Sympherobius occidentalis

Northern Ontario species (10):
Hemerobius conjunctus – Sudbury, Ottawa and north
Hemerobius costalis – Dryden and north
Hemerobius dorsatus – Hudson Bay
Hemerobius simulans – Type specimen from Hudson Bay (report of  1 in Ottawa & Niagara)
Megalomus angulatus – Sudbury and north
Megalomus fidelis – Sudbury and north
Micromus angulatus – Ottawa
Wesmaelius longifrons – Ottawa area, Georgian Bay and north
Wesmaelius nervosus – unknown. Present in B.C. Lectotype from New Hampshire
Wesmaelius subnebulosus – Belleville (eastern Ontario).