Insect Identification logo
Icon of a spider
Icon of a beetle insect
Icon of a butterfly
Icon of a bee
Icon of the Bugfinder utility

Antlion (Vella fallax texana)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Antlion.

 Updated: 1/31/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org




Large adult Antlions look frightening, but it is their charming offspring that earned them their ferocious name.



The harmless adult Antlion is hard to miss. This species is the biggest of all North American Antlions Its wingspan can stretch to 120 mm (over 4.5 inches) across. While the name seems unusual for an insect, it makes more sense when the feeding habit of its younger self is explored.

The larval Antlion is also called a Doodlebug. They are only able to walk backwards and, in doing so, create a trench as they go. They meander as they walk, creating doodles in the loose soil or sand. These child-like sketches are endearing, but they are also great tools for tracking the actual Antlion to its pit of death. Once the offspring has found a suitable location, it will build a cone-shaped crater in the loose sand or dirt where it will lie in wait for its next meal, much like a lioness. Larval antlions dig these burrows and then sit in them with their heads just below the surface. When a careless ant walks too close to the hole, it falls in, and the larval Antlion snatches it with its huge jaws. It stabs the ant with a straw-like mouth part that injects digestive enzymes into the ant. This chemical reaction allows the Antlion to suck all of the liquified internal parts out of the ant. This method of hunting will continue until the young Antlion develops into a winged adult. Fortunately for people, the mighty jaws of the young Antlion are too small to do any damage to human skin.

Adult Antlions drink nectar and eat pollen. They may also consume other insects. They are attracted to lights at night, like moths, but can be seen in the daytime resting on tree trunks or on the walls of buildings. They are weak fliers and are most active in spring and summer. They are considered beneficial to have around since they control ant populations, help pollinate flowers, and are no threat to humans.




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Neuroptera
        Family: Myrmeleontidae
          Genus: Vella
            Species: fallax texana
Identifying Information
Scientific Name: Vella fallax texana
Other Name(s): Doodlebug
Category: Antlion or Lacewing
Size (Adult; Length): 60mm to 70mm (2.34in to 2.73in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black, white, gray, silver
Descriptors: huge, long, large, fuzzy, hairy, flying, wide eyes, wings, helpful, jaws, doodlebug
Territorial Map
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
State of Alabama graphic
State of Arizona graphic
State of Arkansas graphic
State of California graphic
State of Colorado graphic
State of Delware graphic
State of Florida graphic
State of Georgia graphic
State of Idaho graphic
State of Illinois graphic
State of Indiana graphic
State of Iowa graphic
State of Kansas graphic
State of Kentucky graphic
State of Louisiana graphic
State of Maine graphic
State of Maryland graphic
State of Michigan graphic
State of Minnesota graphic
State of Mississippi graphic
State of Missouri graphic
State of Montana graphic
State of Nebraska graphic
State of Nevada graphic
State of New England graphic
State of New Jersey graphic
State of New Mexico graphic
State of New York graphic
State of North Carolina graphic
State of North Dakota graphic
State of Ohio graphic
State of Oklahoma graphic
State of Oregon graphic
State of Pennsylvania graphic
State of South Carolina graphic
State of South Dakota graphic
State of Tennessee graphic
State of Texas graphic
State of Utah graphic
State of Virginia graphic
State of Washington graphic
State of West Virginia graphic
State of Wisconsin graphic
State of Wyoming graphic
Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
Canadian territory of British Columbia graphic
Canadian territory of Manitoba graphic
Canadian territory of New Brunswick graphic
Canadian territory of Newfoundland and Labrador graphic
Canadian territory of Ontario graphic
Canadian territory of Quebec graphic
Canadian territory of Saskatchewan graphic
Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic


Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
Canadian National Flag Graphic
Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
Mexican National Flag Graphic
Mexico
Note: 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 as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.