Friday, May 3, 2013

The Attack of the Antlion Larva

The Ant Lion and/or Antlion is neither an ant nor a lion, albeit this interesting insect gets its name because its larva is so freakin' fierce (like a lion attack) of an enemy towards other insects, and especially towards ants.  The larva, depicted below, has a thick, fleshy body.  Its large jaws are jointed like the arms of a pincer, and they have spines and stiff hairs on the sides.  The antlion catches its victims by trapping 'em.

By trapping its prey, I mean they dig a funnel-shaped hole in sandy soil about 2 inches deep by 3 inches across.  After the hole is made, the Ant Lion (antlion) buries itself in the sand, with only the tip of its jaws jutting out, then waits patiently...  When another insect falls into the trap, it is alarmed by the grains of sand rolling down the sides.  From there, it sticks out its head and while using its jaws, throws a stream of sand at its prey.  The poor victim falls to the bottom of the hole and the attack is on as it is then quickly destroyed and consumed by the antlion's strong jaws (well, strong for its size, of course.).

When it comes to habitat, the antlion lives in sandy coniferous forests and is prevalent throughout the United States and central Europe.

The adult Ant Lion has two pairs of wings, as shown below:

The adult antlion usually only flies at dusk or at night and while resting, it uses both pairs of wings sort of like a roof to cover the body.  Once they become an adult, they don't live very long, uh, somewhere around 6 months by what I have read in the past.

---End of Post "The Attack of the Antlion Larva"


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