While the adult antlions (pictured here) may not appear very fierce, they received the name “antlion” from the incredible way their larvae catch their prey. Unlike predators that actively hunt, antlion larvae are sit and wait predators …digging a conical pit in sandy areas and waiting at the bottom for an ant or other insect to slip on the loose sand and slide into the waiting (and impressive) jaws of the antlion larvae. The lives of the adults are less well known. They are weak fliers that primarily fly at night. Often confused with dragonflies or damselflies, the clubbed antennae are the sure identifier that this insect is an antlion. Unlike the larvae of beetles (which can become larger than the eventual adult), antlions exhibit the largest disparity in size from smaller larvae to the much larger adult. They can accomplish this impressive expansion thanks to the adult’s extremely thin exoskeleton.
Photo by Glenn Marangelo on 7/24/20 in Missoula, MT.