Psychopsis species
Silky Lacewings
Don Herbison-Evans
( )
Stella Crossley

Psychopsis species
typical Lacewing larva
(Photo: courtesy of Ellen Reid, Bible Museum, St Arnaud, Victoria)

The larvae of Lacewings look rather like big ants, with huge jaws but with no waist between the thorax and abdomen. They are carnivorous, eating other insects, like caterpillars and aphids. The larvae normally live under the broken bark of trees. They rest by day, and hunt by night. Development can take up to two years.

They pupate in a silk cocoon under the tree bark.

Psychopsis species
adult Psychopsis mimica Newman, 1842
(Photo: copyright of Uwe Path, Alice Springs, Northern Territory)

Adult Lacewings are not moths or butterflies, but are in a totally different insect order: NEUROPTERA. They have transparent wings, each with a very complex system of veins, and no coloured scales.

Psychopsis species
adult Psychopsis mimica Newman, 1842
(Photo: courtesy of Graeme Cocks, Townsville, Queensland)

The forewings of Psychopsis mimica each have a series of double brown stripes radiating from the tornus to the costa, with reddish-brown blotches at the tornus and near the base. The hindwings each have a dark spot in the middle. In the resting position, the forewings cover the hindwings. The insects have a wingspan of about 5 cms.

Psychopsis species
adult Psychopsis margarita Tillyard, 1922
(Photo: courtesy of Joan Fearn, Moruya, New South Wales)

The wings of Psychopsis margarita each have a series of reddish-brown blotches.

The genus has been found over much of Australia, including

  • Northern Territory,
  • Queensland,
  • New South Wales,
  • Victoria, and
  • South Australia.

    Further reading:

    Edward Newman,
    Entomological notes (continued from p. 223),
    The Entomologist,
    Volume 1, part 26 (1842), p. 415.

    Robert John Tillyard,
    Descriptions of two new Australian species of Psychopsis,
    The Australian Zoologist,
    Volume 3 (1922), pp. 37-38, and also Plate 3.2.

    Australian Not-Caterpillars
    Australian Not-Moths
    not Lepidoptera

    (written 23 July 2013, updated 14 September 2013, 2 October 2013, 17 August 2017, 30 June 2019)