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Antlion (Glenurus spp)

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

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Elegant adult Antlions may be delightful to watch, but their quirky little larvae offer far more interesting behaviors to observe.

Updated: 10/10/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Antlions get their name thanks to the diet of their larvae. A small Antlion larva is also known an a 'doodlebug'. Doodlebugs are ground dwellers and have a huge set of intimidating jaws. These small larvae look like beetles, but they can only walk backwards. In their wake, they leave a curvy lines of loose soil or sand that resembles random doodles. These trails can lead a bug finder all the way back to their pits of doom.

Doodlebugs dig cone-shaped holes into the soft soil or sand and lay in the bottom. When an ant at the surface gets too near the edge, it slips into the hole and slides down to the waiting jaws of the Antlion larva. The Antlion larva will grab the ant and use part of its mouth parts to inject an enzyme that allows the internal body parts to be easily sucked out of the ant. The Antion larva's large appetite for ants, and the ferocity in which it dispatches them, led to the insect's name.

Once a larva matures, an adult Antlion more closely resembles a damselfly or dragonfly. Adult Antlions, however, have obvious antennae, are weak fliers, and are nocturnal. They may eat nectar and pollen. Adults can be found at night in tall grasses out in open habitats. Their larvae can be found in open fields of sandy soil, at the base of trees, on the dusty floors of barns or sheds, or under rock ledges. Both life stages are most active in spring and summer.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Shiny insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Neuroptera
        Family: Myrmeleontidae
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          Genus: Glenurus
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            Species: spp

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Glenurus spp
Other Name(s): Doodlebugs
Category: Antlion or Lacewing
Size (Adult; Length): 20mm to 40mm (0.78" to 1.57")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; white; gray; brown
Descriptors: pointy; speckled; tail; long; shiny; flying; dragonfly-like

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 20mm (0.8in) and 40mm (1.6in)
Lo: 20mm
Md: 30mm
Hi: 40mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Antlion may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Antlion. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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