Animals

Bug-nificent Antlion Facts For Kids

Antilion facts are interesting to read and can be very knowledgable
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Do you like reading about unusual predatory insects? Then you would definitely love to read about these antlions from the Myrmeleontidae family and Neuroptera order. Antlions are predatory species of insects that feed on ants majorly along with other small arthropods and even small spiders. In the US they are commonly known as 'doodlebug' as they make winding patterns on any soil while finding a location to dig a pit and set their trap on loose sand or loose soil. They build their sandy pit in such a way that only their jaws are visible at the bottom and the prey falls directly into them. They can subdue a prey much bigger than its size. Antlion larva is only about 0.5 in (1.27 cm) long whereas the adult antlion lacewings are about  1.5-3 in (3.81-7.62 cm) approx. The larva is small and brown and the adult is elongated with antennae. The doodlebug antlion's life cycle is quite short and does not last more than 45 days. Some species of the doodlebug prefer capturing and killing without pits. The larva once the growth is fully completed, the larva becomes pupae and builds a cocoon out of sand and silk to turn into an adult antlion lacewing fly. The antlion bug or antlion lacewing is nocturnal and doesn't feed much. Their primary focus is to mate and lay eggs before they die or get hunted. To know more, keep reading.

If you like reading about various insects, please check these similar on ladybirds and woodlice.

Antlion Facts

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Ants, other small insects

What do they eat?

Carnivore

Average litter size?

20

How much do they weigh?

N/A

How long are they?

Larvae: 0.5 in (1.27 cm)

Adult body: 1.5-3 in (3.81-7.62 cm)

Adult wingspan: 0.8-5.9 in (2-15 cm)

How tall are they?

N/A


What do they look like?

Drab

Skin Type

N/A

What are their main threats?

Birds, Bats, fly-eaters

What is their conservation status?

Not Listed

Where you'll find them

Open woodland floors, hedge bases, underneath raised buildings, vacant lots, scrub-clad dunes

Locations

Global

Kingdom

Animalia

Class

Insecta

Scientific Name

Myrmeleon formicarius Dendroleon obsoletus Myrmeleon brasiliensis

Family

Myrmeleontidae

Genus

Myrmeleon Myrmeleonidae Dendroleon

Antlion Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an antlion?

The antlion is a type of insect of the Neuroptera order.

What class of animal does an antlion belong to?

The antlion belongs to the family Myrmeleontidae and superfamily Myrmeleontoidea.

How many antlions are there in the world?

There are about 2000 species of antlion that belong to the Myrmeleontidae. Their exact population is still unknown as they are quite understudied in terms of population.

Where does an antlion live?

The antlion has a group of 2000 species of insect of order Neuroptera. They are very common in the United States especially in Wisconsin, but also found in most others parts of the world.

What is an antlion's habitat?

The antlion's habitat includes dry places or habitats to live in. They mostly build their pits in loose sand or sandy soil. They love sheltered sandy areas like wooded dunes, dry tree-lined banks, under hedges, sandy flower beds, under construction cities, and more such places. An antlion pit is made delicately of loose sand and looks like a cocoon of sand.

Who do antlions live with?

Antlion larvae are considered to be solitary predators and don't live with their adults. Once larvae hatch from their eggs then they dig pits and live under the base of the pits and eat voraciously during this stage. They metamorphize into antlion lacewings that look like damselflies and fly away to mate.

How long does an antlion live?

The antlion life cycle is extremely short for even an insect. They live for 20-25 days on average and adults can live up to 45 days maximum.

How do they reproduce?

Antlions only mate after they metamorphose into lacewings and is a beautiful acrobatic affair. They take flight as soon as their wings harden and they look for a potential mate. The female insect sits in a branch while the male attaches its tail with her's. After mating, they look for suitable locations for laying the eggs. A female can lay up to 20 eggs at a time, and one Antlion egg produces one larva. Once the larvae hatch out they start digging a funnel-shaped pit and traps their prey with its sickle-like jaws at the bottom of the pit. The larva reaches the pupae stage and forms the antlion cocoon made of sand and silk, to metamorphize into adult antlions.

What is their conservation status?

Antlions are a group of 2000 species from the Myrmeleontidae family of insects. They are quite understudied in terms of the population so they are not listed under the International Union for Conservation of Nature or IUCN Red List. They are in fact very common throughout the world, especially in warm and dry places.

Antlion Fun Facts

What do antlions look like?

Adult antlions have beautiful veined wings

Antlions are small brown insects of the order Neuroptera. Antlion larva has a plump oval flattened body, with segmented abdomens and six legs. An antlion larva often is covered with bristles, and its head is flattened and has a pair of large, sicklelike pincers or antennae. They are often seen at the bottom of their delicately built traps waiting for live ants or insects to fall in their sickle-like jaws. Once they are fully matured they build themselves a cocoon of sand and silk until they metamorphose into antlion lacewings like the damselflies. Adults are much bigger with a length of 1.5-3 in (3.81-7.62 cm) and a wingspan of 0.8-5.9 in (2-15 cm). They have an elongated body with four beautiful delicate veined wings and curved antennae as long as the head and thorax combined.

How cute are they?

Antlion larva looks very intimidating with their brown bristles and pincers so they are definitely not cute. Also, they are predatory in nature so they hunt or trap ants and other small insects to feed themselves. They often make meandered, scrawl-like patterns on sandy soil while crawling and are thus called a 'doodlebug' as the patterns look like doodles. Once the larval stage is completed, the larva changes into pupae and finally into adult antlions. They are quite fragile and adult antlion wings are beautiful and are often seen during summer at sunsets and feed on nectar and pollen.

How do they communicate?

As antlions are heavily understudied, exact details about their specific communication methods are not known. Like most insects of the Neuroptera order, they communicate through pheromones. But it has been observed that they use their bristles and pincers to sense their surroundings.

How big is an antlion?

Antlion larvae are quite small in size but are big enough to feed on ants and other small insects and arthropods. Antlions are small, their larvae are about 0.5 in (1.27 cm) and the adult antlions have about 1.5-3 in (3.81-7.62 cm) long body and have a wingspan of 0.8-5.9 in (2-15 cm) which makes them as big as dragonflies or damselflies.

Can antlions fly?

Yes, the adult antlion can fly with its four beautiful intricated veined wings. However, the antlion larva cannot fly at all. The adults fly as soon as their wings hardened to mate and reproduce before they die.

How much does an antlion weigh?

The exact weight of an antlion is not yet known.

What are their male and female names of the species?

Like most insect species, antlions don't have any specific terms for their males and females. They are referred to as male and female antlions. You can distinguish them by their segmented abdomen. Males have a bristle-bearing knob called 'pilula axillaris' and females have more variation at the tip of their abdomens.

What would you call a baby antlion?

A baby antlion is called antlion larva. In their pupal stage, they become pupates.

What do they eat?

Antlion larvae are predatory insects. In some species, they attack their prey by capturing and killing them instantly. But most common species are known to build a funnel-shaped pit about 1-2 in (2.5-5 cm) and 1-3 in (2.5-7.5 cm) wide at the surface or edges with the help of their abdomen on loose sand or loose sandy soil. Any small insect that unconsciously ventures about the surface will fall for the trap and slide at the bottom to be captured by the antlion larva's strong jaws. Antlion pits are very delicately engineered and are long, narrow but the antlion trap is quite efficient. In some Antlion insect species, the adults become herbivores and depend on nectars and pollens.

Are they harmful?

Antlion larva has an aggressive nature when it comes to food and hunting. But otherwise, they don't generally attack humans or other animals and don't bite either. An antlion bite is painful, and they bite only when stressed or feel threatened. They release a mild venom which can numb the part bitten several minutes later the bite. The adult is very fragile and fray nocturnal fliers and is seen mostly after sunset. But otherwise, they are actually very beneficial for nature. Their pits are good for the soil structure and the adult antlions play a vital role in pollination.

Would they make a good pet?

No, sadly these insects cannot be good companion pets. The larvae have a life cycle of about 20-25 days and the adult can maximum live for 45 days. These bugs are migratory in the case of certain species, where they travel to summer places during winter.

If you want to have antlions as pets, then keep them in open glass jars filled with dry loose sand and watch them slowly build sand pits for traps. You can feed them ants and small insects.

Did you know...

Certain species like the spotted-winged antlion won't build a pit to trap its prey in its jaws but instead, seize the prey from a hiding place.

The antlion mandible has a piercing-sucking function with the help of their jaws where they paralyze the prey after seizing them, suck all their contents, and throw their skin away.

Adult antlions are often called 'nerve-winged insects' because of their cross-veined wings.

Why is it called antlion?

The name antlion has been derived from the insects 'Myrmeleon' genus type which is known to originate from ancient greek. The term 'léon' means lion, and regards their predatory nature and some also say their head looks like a lion's head. The term 'mýrmex' means ant. The words combined lead to 'antlion'.

How to get rid of antlions?

Antlions are quite harmless insects and don't bother humans. At times they might infest certain places in your houses and damage them. Antlion infestation is easy to get rid of and it doesn't require any use of pesticides or insecticides. You just have to put or mix a few pieces of gravel or wet soil into their pits which will prevent them from digging further and ultimately resulting in them relocating far away. But it advised to handle them cautiously as they do bite when threatened to release a mild venom which can cause a burning sensation and pain several minutes after the bite.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other arthropods including grasshoppers and termites.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our Antlion coloring pages.

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