This Is a First

These pits may not be overly showy or impressive for a photograph. They are interesting, though, in what the nymphs do.

Antlion pits aren’t a first for me; they’re a first for my yard. This shows how dry our summer’s been, when I find them in our front yard under the arborvitae tree. This isn’t their normal habitat.

Antlions are usually found in dry, fine-grained soil that’s protected from rain. This could be places like under rock overhangs and eaves of a house.

I photographed these on a hike. There usually aren’t this many in one place, and this picture doesn’t even show all of them.

 Antlions over winter in larval stage. Then in the spring each creates a pit in sand or loose dirt, some up to an inch in diameter. The nymph remains under the bottom of the pit. Any insect, like these small black ants, fall/slide into the pit. The loose dirt prevents the them from climbing out. The nymph grabs its prey from below.

There was a teeny caterpillarin this pit. I orginally found 11 pits under the arborvitae. A storm reduced the number to 5.

I usually don’t disturb anything holding my interest. I did use a spoon, though, and scooped out what I thought would be deep enough. I didn’t find anything and then felt guilty. Pictures show the nymph with 6 short legs, a segmented body and pinchers on its head. The adult resembles a damselfly. Damselflies hold their wings closed over their back, and antlions hold theirs outward. Antlions also have 1/4-inch antennae, which damselflies lack.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Therese on September 26, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    Well, here we go again. Didn’t know this either. So interesting!


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