Antlion (Glenarus gratus)
Detailing the identifying qualities of the Antlion, including physical features and territorial reach.
Updated: 1/31/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
This large and distinctively patterned Antlion is commonly spotted in Florida where it is found inside tree holes as well as gopher tortoise burrows.
Antlions get their name from the lion-sized appetites of their larvae. Known as Doodlebugs, the small, young larvae create trenches in soft sand or soil as they walk in random directions, often resembling doodles drawn by small children. The Doodlebugs of this species have large pincers with two small teeth on each one. The modified mouthparts at the head form sucking tubes that the larva uses to drain internal organs from its favorite meal: ants. Doodlebugs dig out shallow pits in the sand or soft soil and sit inside them. When ants walk too close to the edges of the pit, the loose sand/soil falls down from under them and they slip into the waiting jaws of the Doodlebug.
The winged adults may be mistaken for a damselfly at first . A quick check for the small clubs at the tips of the antennae can confirm the insect is an Antlion. The black and white marble pattern at the tips of all four wings are bold and unmistakable for this species. They are attracted to lights at night, but are usually seen in or around the tree holes they live in. They have also been found inside the abandoned ground nests of the threatened gopher tortoise.