Behavior And Reproduction

Many adult neuropterans are active at dusk or in the evening and are attracted to lights. During the day they remain inactive and hidden among vegetation. Some species rely on camouflage to avoid detection by predators. Some brown and green lacewings will pretend to be dead when threatened. Others produce a bad odor to discourage predators. Some mantidflies not only mimic the color and appearance of paper wasps but will also adopt their movements and postures when disturbed.

Larvae engage in a variety of behaviors to capture prey. The larvae of owlflies are "sit-and-wait" predators, ambushing hapless prey as they walk into their open jaws. Some antlions hide at the bottom of cone-shaped pits they construct to trap crawling insects. Green lacewings, brown lacewings, and dustywings actively hunt for prey, as do larvae living in freshwater habitats. Spongilla flies eat only freshwater sponges and moss animals and use their incredibly long and slender jaws to pierce individual cells. Some species living along the shore use their long jaws to probe wet sand and mud for fly larvae. Pleasing and silky lacewings hunt in crevices and under bark for arthropods (AR-thruh-pads), or animals with hard outer skeletons and several pairs of jointed limbs, such as insects and spiders. The first and third stages of beaded lacewing larvae burrow in the soil in search of termites, while the second state is inactive and does not feed.

The larvae of mantidflies feed in spider egg sacs or in the nests of social wasps. Immediately after hatching, the larvae that prey on spider eggs actively seek a suitable host spider and climb up on its body. Eventually the larvae enter the egg sac to feed. The second and third larval stages look very different from the first stage and have very large, bloated abdomens. Scientists think that these larvae might produce chemicals that slow down

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