Living With Insect Silk

Insect use silk for a variety of purposes. Lacewings use silk when laying eggs to avoid egg predators such as ants. A female lacewing will place a droplet of silk on a leaf, then lay an egg in the droplet. Pulling the egg creates a silk filament that hardens within a few seconds. This creates a silk stalk that separates the egg from the leaf surface. Ants are unable to climb the stalk and the egg with its developing larva is protected.

Green Lacewing Egg on a Silk Stalk
Photo: NCSU

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in Biomaterials, by jjneal. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Living With Insect Silk

  1. Pingback: Living With Insect Inspired Silk | Living With Insects Blog

  2. Anonymous says:

    I have never thought that ants can’t climb certain areas. Why can’t ants climb the stalk? Also, I have never thought of silk something that could harden. I am wondering if it is the same silk we use from silkworms, or is it a different kind of silk.
    After the larva develops and transforms into an adult, does it just fall down from the silk thread or does the female lacewing do transport the larva somewhere else to protect it?

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