Hatching lacewing eggs

(30 December 2016) These tiny, 2 mm eggs on stalks are often found on plants in the garden, or on the walls of houses. In her 5 weeks of adult life the female lacewing produce about 200 of them. Just before the larvae hatch, the eggs turn gray (see top photo). The emerging, 3 mm ‘tall’, larvae have strong jaws, used to munch aphids. For this reason farmers buy the larvae in large numbers and spread them over their crops! In three weeks the larvae increase a four fold in size, pupate and emerge a week later as adults.
It is hard to know which species the larvae in the photo represent. Australia is home to about 600 lacewing species, including 250 ant lions. My guess is that this specific one is the blue eyes lacewing: it is abundant here on the mountain, and photos show that the larvae look identical.


The adult lacewing

To take a photo of hatching larvae, without disturbing the subject, is a challenge; these larvae were located high on a wall. Despite the tiny size, it is hard, but necessary, to get enough depth of field to have the entire larvae in focus and see some of the surroundings. Therefore the aperture is as small as f/22 for the 60mm macro lens. Flash light does not look good at all, so I added an artificial steady light. Because of the size (and the need to crop later) it was necessary to maintain a high quality grain, so the ISO of 200 was the maximum. Given these conditions I needed 0.5 seconds as shutter time, which is fine because of the tripod and remote control of the camera. In all honesty: I took about 40 pictures to get the right one. But it was worth the effort.