Evanne Rothwell of Silvermine’s Riverine Rovers writes:
“I rescued this fluffy little owlfly from a plastic bag. I called him a cross dresser as he looks like a combination of a dragonfly and a moth. In fact his closest relative is an antlion. There must be lots in the Silvermine wetlands, but this is the first I have seen.”
The owlflies are related to lace-wings and ant-lions and are not flies at all. Feeding on insect pests, they are beneficial insects to nurture in your garden, although they are seldom seen. They are about 5cm in length and have four net-veined wings which they fold around the twig they are sitting on when at rest, puffing out their abdomens to resemble broken twigs.
Laying her eggs at the tips of twigs or branches, the female owlfly spins a cocoon just below the eggs to protect them from caterpillars and worms. After hatching the young larvae live closely together for about a week, feeding on fruitflies and miggies that come their way. After about a week they separate and head for the ground where they possibly live on soft-bodied insects in the ground litter where they later morph in to adult owlflies in silken cocoons.