Trivia question for Feb-26-2011

Posted on Feb 26, 2011 in Trivia

Carter found these guys to be fierce looking, especially in their larva stage so here is his trivia for today;  These insects spend over 3 years as a fierce predator before spinning itself into a cocoon, to later develop into a winged adult.  Adults only live for a few weeks.

The larva stage has a very unique way of catching its dinner and they usually feast on ants, wood-lice and small spiders.  The lava has no mouth aperture so it has to consume its food in liquid form.  Seizing the trapped prey in its pincer-like lower jaw, it injects the prey with a paralyzing poison.  Then their digestive juices break down the internal tissues, which are then sucked out.

The larva stage has no means of excreting waste.  The first act of the adult is to discharge the 3 years worth of accumulation.  So here are Carter’s questions:  Can you tell us what this insect is called and also tell us how they trap their food?

Good Luck 😉


I should have guessed that our main entomologist fan would have guessed this straight away. Congratulations to Dr. Stephanie. Great job. The aggressive insect we featured is the Antlion.

Strictly speaking, the term “antlion” applies to the larval form of the members of this family, but while several languages have their own terms for the adult, there is no widely used word for them in English. Very rarely, the adults are called “antlion lacewings”.

The antlion larva is often called “doodlebug” in North America because of the odd winding, spiraling trails it leaves in the sand while looking for a good location to build its trap, as these trails look like someone has doodled in the sand. They are highly active in desert regions and are a nuisance. They will deliver a small, mildly painful bite if given the chance to land on someone.

Antlion’s dig a deep pit in the sand. When the pit is completed, the larva settles down at the bottom, buried in the soil with only the jaws projecting above the surface, often in a wide-opened position.

Since the sides of the pit consist of loose sand at its angle of repose, they afford an insecure foothold to any small insects that inadvertently venture over the edge, such as ants. Slipping to the bottom, the prey is immediately seized by the lurking antlion; or if it attempts to scramble again up the treacherous walls of the pit, it is speedily checked in its efforts and brought down by showers of loose sand, which are thrown at it from below by the larva. By throwing up loose sand from the bottom of the pit, the larva also undermines the sides of the pit, causing them to collapse and bring the prey with them. Thus it does not matter whether the larva actually strikes the prey with the sand showers.

Here is more on these clever bugs: Antlion

Thanks for playing along 😉