The long wings on a delicate Spotted-winged Antlion stretch well beyond its narrow body.
Antlions are not damselflies nor dragonflies though some think there is a resemblance. Antlions are their own family of insects. The Spotted-winged Antlion's wings have blackish-brown spots and circular markings on them. These wings are wide at the bottom, but quickly taper at the tip of the abdomen. The antennae have small balls, or clubs at the tips, which damselflies and dragonflies do not have. Adults do not feed often and may drink nectar or eat insects.
The real star of the family though are the offspring. Larval Antlions are also called 'Doodlebugs' thanks to the labyrinth of lines they leave in the soft soil or sand they wander through. Their meandering paths look like a child's drawings. Their small round bodies have large pincers and strong mouth parts. When a good location is found, Doodlebugs dig little cone-shaped pits into the soil and sit in the narrow bottom. They wait for an ant to pass too closely to the edge where the loose soil gives way. Once the ant falls into the pit, the Doodlebug uses its mouth parts to kill the ant and eat its internal organs. Doodlebugs have big appetites, like those of a lion. This voracious reputation led to its common name.
Look for Spotted-winged Antlion adults on plants and walls. Survey areas of sandy, loose soil for the random lines drawn by its artistic larvae.
Scientific Name: Dendroleon obsoletus
Antlion or Lacewing
Size (Adult; Length): 25mm to 40mm (0.98in to 1.56in)
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