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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 ¬©

Picture of Antlion-Glenarus-Gratus
Picture of Antlion-Glenarus-Gratus

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.

Antlion Information

Category: Antlion or Lacewing
Common Name: Antlion
Scientific Name: Glenarus gratus

Taxonomy Hierarchy

 Arrow graphic Kingdom: Animalia
  Arrow graphic Phylum: Arthropoda
   Arrow graphic Class: Insecta
    Arrow graphic Order: Neuroptera
     Arrow graphic Family: Myrmeleontidae
      Arrow graphic Genus: Glenarus
       Arrow graphic Species: gratus

Size, Identifying Tags and Territorial Reach

Size (Adult, Length): Size (Adult, Length): 35 mm to 52 mm (1.365 inches to 2.028 inches)
Identifying Colors: black, white
Additional Descriptors: long, wings, markings, tips, spots, dots, flying, tracks, doodlebug

North American Territorial Reach (Though Not Limited To): Alabama; Arkansas; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Nebraska;New Hampshire; New Jersey; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Vermont; Virginia; West Virginia; Wisconsin; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Mexico

A Note About Territorial Reach: Keep in mind that an insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above. Insects are driven by environmental factors, food supplies and mating patterns and do not nescessarily work within hard-and-fast territorial lines like we humans do.

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