Doodlebug Compound


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Antlion Pits, Little Manatee River State Park, Florida July 2020

Antlion larvae prefer to excavate their inverted cone traps in soft sand under trees where ants and other insects might traipse. This must’ve been an ideal spot, I’ve not seen this density in one location before – it was a plethora of pits!

There are over 2,000 species of antlions found mainly in warm regions around the world. They are classified in the family Myrmeleontidae which stems from two Greek words; ant (myrmex) and lion (leon). As for the common name, Doodlebug, that derived from the strange designs they create in the sand while searching for the perfect pit spot.

Depending on resources (or lack thereof) antlions can remain in the larval stage for up to three years. After pupating, they emerge as delicate, flying objects that resemble lacewings. They also undergo a lifestyle change, many of them subsisting on nectar and pollen for their brief adulthood (roughly a month).

There were antlions in the Sonoran Desert where I grew up and I spent many a summer day tickling the side of a trap with a blade of grass, trying to coax one into grabbing hold so that I could pull it out of the sand and examine it. I don’t find them visually appealing but I do admire their hunting prowess. As you can see in the video below, they have some mad skills!

Categories: Nature Notes

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