Spotted-winged Antlions have longer wings than bodies and look nothing like their more famous, artistic offspring.
Antlions are not damselflies nor dragonflies though some think they resemble them. Antlions are their own family of insects. The Spotted-winged Antlion's wings have blackish-brown spots and circular markings on them. Wings widen from the body, but at the end of the abdomen, they begin to taper to a soft point. 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 are the offspring. Larval Antlions are called "Doodlebugs" thanks to the labyrinth of lines they leave in the soft soil or sand they wander through. Their small round bodies have large pincers and strong mouthparts. Doodlebugs dig little cone-shaped pits into the soil and sit in the narrow bottom. They wait for an ant to pass too close to the edge where the loose soil gives way and it falls in. Once in the pit, the Doodlebug uses its mouthparts to kill the ant and eat its internal organs. Doodlebugs have voracious appetites, like those of a lion. This reputation led to its common name.
Look for Spotted-winged Antlion adults on plants and walls. Survey sandy, loose soil for the random lines drawn in it to find its larvae.
Scientific Name: Dendroleon obsoletus
Antlion or Lacewing
Size (Adult; Length): 25mm to 40mm (0.98in to 1.56in)
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