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The intriguing, vicious and sometimes exquisite antlion - Walk in Africa
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Walk in Africa / Uncategorized  / The intriguing, vicious and sometimes exquisite antlion
5 Mar

The intriguing, vicious and sometimes exquisite antlion

I’m sure that you’ve seen those small pits in the dust. You know the ones I mean . . .

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The creatures that construct these pits are intriguing and vicious little creatures called ant lions because they feed on small insects and arachnids (mostly ants and termites) and are ferocious. Their bodies are grub-like but covered in stiff hairs. Their mouthparts consist of only a pair of sharp, hollow fang-like jaws.

They construct their characteristic pits by moving backwards in concentric circles in fine loose sand. They then lie at the bottom of their pit and wait for an unsuspecting insect of a suitable size to fall into the pit. The steep loose sides cause the prey to slide down to the bottom and the ant lion speeds-up the process by flicking sand onto the prey. As soon as the prey is within reach the ant lion grabs it in its jaw, subdues it and sucks it dry, discarding the empty carcass. Because they move backwards through fine sand they do not have an anus. All their waste products collect at the end of their blind-ending digestive track and are discarded when they moult.

After a long period in this larval stage they metamorphose into a winged form. On my most recent safari with Uncharted Africa I saw this exquisite winged adult. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.

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