Other lacewing larvae tend to be more free moving, some patrolling the undersides of leaves in search of aphids and scale, whilst others live in rotting wood, disguising themselves with a covering of leaf/wood litter. Yet others live a semi-aquatic life on the edges of streams, feeding on aquatic invertebrates.
Both lacewing and ant-lions have wide Australian distribution, however the former are more common in the wetter eastern States, whilst the later are more common in the drier interior and western regions. As for species numbers, there are a lot of them. To give an idea, in the lacewing Order Neuroptera there are 6 superfamilies that are divided into 14 families, which in turn have a considerable number of genera and vastly more species. So yes, that little old ant-lion you once saw is only one of many species.
The well known ant-lion from the superfamily Myrmeleontoidea and the family Myrmeleontidae come in several guises, but basically they have big jaws and a body with maybe some legs for mobility. Around me is one that lives in the top couple of centimetres of sand, but instead of remaining stationary like most ant-lions, this one swims through the sand leaving snail-like trails.
The adult lacewings with their large eyes, reflect torch light and are therefore very easy to spot at night. So another reason to go spotlighting for invertebrates. You never know what you might find.
With so many Lacewing/Ant-lion species in Australia, I had to include another to illustrate some of the more obvious differences between them. Many will be familiar with the distinctively different green toned lacewings, or the bizarre mantid type with grasping limbs, but have a look at the one below. To an entomologist the differences are crystal-clear, but if you are like me, it takes a little study to see what they are.
Lacewing from the Nymphidae family