Explanation of Names
Greek chrysos (χρυςοσ) 'gold' + ops (ω&psi) 'eye, face' + a feminine noun ending
85 spp. in 14 genera* in our area(1)
; ca. 1,200 spp. in 75 genera and 3 subfamilies worldwide(2)
*Genera not yet in the guide: Chrysopodes (1 sp., FL, TX), Nacarina (1 sp., NC, FL), Nineta (1 sp., AZ-UT), Pimachrysa (5 spp., AZ-CA), Plesiochrysa (1 sp., FL)
Key to most NA genera provided in(3)
Soft-bodied insects with copper-colored eyes, long thread-like antennae, and lacy wings.
To the naked eye the wings appear hairless, but under magnification short hairs can be seen along the edges and veins. See photo and diagram of wing venation:
Most species are green, but some are brown, especially overwintering adults of certain species:
Pinned specimens turn yellowish.
Larvae are flat and elongated (alligator-like) with large jaws. Debris-carrying larvae cover themselves with bits of litter, perhaps to deter predators.
Common in grass and weeds and on tree/shrub foliage
Some adults are predators, others take liquids such as honeydew, and some feed on pollen
Larvae are predatory on other insects, especially aphids (sometimes called 'aphid lions'); will also consume larger insects, insect eggs, and pupae.
Eggs are characteristically stalked. The eggs and egg-laying process is illustrated here:
The larvae pupate in silken cocoons that are generally attached to the underside of leaves or stems.
often give off an unpleasant odor when handled
of larvae feeding on aphids
have different wing venation and usually more oval wings
have raptorial forelegs