Friday, June 3, 2011

Creature Feature - Ant lion

This month's featured creature is the antlion, also sometimes known as the doodlebug. This carnivorous insect gets its name because it preys primarily on ants.
Larvae of this species dig a pit in the sand, bury themselves at the bottom, and wait for ants to tumble in. The loose sand and steep walls of the pit prevent the ant from easily climbing out. If an ant does manage to start climbing, the antlion literally throws sand at the ant, causing it to fall back to the bottom of the pit, where it is devoured.
There are more than 2000 species of antlions around the world. Larvae of most North American species are about the size of a human fingernail. The crater they dig is usually a few inches across. Interestingly, the size of the crater is not related to the size of the larvae, but how hungry it is. The longer it has been since an antlion has eaten, the larger the crater will be.
The larval stage lasts for up to three years. The insect then spins a cocoon, where it spends around three weeks in a pupal stage. After that, the adult emerges, spending about a month mating and laying eggs, and then it dies.
Here's a National Geographic video that features an antlion capturing its prey.

The First Friday Creature Feature is hosted right here on the first Friday of every month.  You're invited to join in!  Here's how:
1. Write a post featuring some creature that lives in your garden.
2. Within your post, include a link to my Creature Feature post so your readers will know where to find the creatures.
3. Add your link below and leave a comment.
Thanks for participating and please join in again next month!



2 comments:

Sheila Read said...

Fascinating post ! I am amazed at the clever specializations so many creatures have - the antlion is a new one to me. The video is excellent, especially the part where the antlion throws sand at the ant!

NellJean said...

Thank you for blogging about the Antlion. I saw some holes (we used to call them 'doodlebug holes) in the greenhouse the other day.

To get a good look at the little creature, we took a straw and stirred gently,
chanting, "Doodlebug, dooglebug, come out of your hole."

I blogged about another creature fond of ants, and grubs. When they get too invasive and starting digging up the garden and making tunnels under the house, they have to go.

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