Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 143–157

The escape strategy of green lacewings from orb webs

  • W. Mitchell Masters
  • Thomas Eisner

DOI: 10.1007/BF01417908

Cite this article as:
Masters, W.M. & Eisner, T. J Insect Behav (1990) 3: 143. doi:10.1007/BF01417908


When green lacewings (Neuroptera: Chrysopidae) fly into spider orb webs, they often simply reverse their flight direction and pull away (Table I). If a lacewing is trapped, it uses a specialized escape behavior. It first cuts away the sticky strands entangling head, feet, and antennae. If an antenna cannot be freed by tugging, it uses an “antenna climb” (Fig. 5A). After its body is free, the lacewing remains suspended by its hair-covered wings, which are held in a characteristic cruciform position (Fig. 5B). Orb web sticky strands adhere poorly to the hairy wings (Fig. 7), so the chrysopid may just wait until the strands slide off and it falls free. If placed in an orb web when the spider is at the web hub and ready to attack, a lacewing usually does not have time to escape (Fig. 1). When the spider is at the hub but eating, the chances of escape improve, and when the spider is away from the hub attacking other prey, nearly all lacewings in our experiment were able to escape. This finding emphasizes the importance of the spider's activity in its capture success.

Key words

Chrysopidae Araneidae lacewings spiders orb webs escape behavior prey capture 

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Mitchell Masters
    • 1
  • Thomas Eisner
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyOhio State UniversityColumbus
  2. 2.Section ofNeurobiology and BehaviorCornell UniversityIthaca

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