A window to phenology — Dishwashing & lacewings

An adult lacewing

10 years ago when our home was remodeled, my wife and I insisted on installing a fairly large picture window above the kitchen sink. If I was going to be spending many hours of my week washing dishes, I wanted to be able to peer out into our side yard and the adjacent woods. It came as a shock, albeit a wonderful one, that a number of species are interested in the mundane act of washing dishes. During the day hummingbirds will fly up and look into the window. The busiest time is in the late evening, when a myriad of insects and tree frogs will shove their little noses to the glass to watch, and in my imagination, offer helpful tips on the proper techniques of the craft. Weird huh? 

One insect that shows up on late summer evenings is the green lacewing (Chrysoperia carnea). This insect’s wings, which are held like a roof over their bodies, are appropriately named because they are see-through with a delicate infrastructure of veins throughout. As a nymph, they are alligator shaped and nearly as ferocious when they devour aphids, caterpillers and mites, the likes of which enjoy eating your garden vegetables almost as much as you do. As adults lacewings eat nectar, pollen and aphid honeydew. The Minnesota Extension Service has a fact sheet about the green lacewing.