Sunday, June 22, 2014

An Antlion Capturing and Eating an Ant

My mother collected these "doodlebugs" a few days ago to show my children.  I got interested and decided to try to video them in action.  They are called doodlebugs because of the doodly patterns they sometimes make in the sand when moving about.  They are also called antlions because ants are a staple of their diet.  We have fed them so many ants and they always seem ready for more.  Antlions are the larval form of an insect in the order Neuroptera, which also includes the green lacewing.  They are classified in the family Myrmeleontidae, genus Myrmeleon.  I do not know which species this individual belongs to.

It is really interesting to watch them build and use their sand pit traps.  They move backwards burrowing into the sand in a circular pattern while tossing the sand out of the pits with rapid jerking of their heads.  When the pit is deep enough they sit at the bottom with only their jaws exposed and wait on their prey, usually ants.  If the ant is able to gain the footing to get out, the antlion showers it with sand causing it to slide back to the bottom.

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