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Antlions (Family Myrmeleontidae)
(Class Insecta, Order Neuroptera)
Invertebrates Around Las Vegas, Wildlife Around Las Vegas
Antlions (Family Myrmeleontidae)
Antlion larvae laying in wait for a prey item

General: The Antlions (Family Myrmeleontidae) are a group of flying creatures in the desert and mountains around Las Vegas, although we mostly know them from the larvae. There is 7 families of antlions, which are generally recognized by their long, lacy wings that show a network of veins. In addition, the membranous wings are in two pairs, the body is long and thin, and the antennae are long, and the color is green (usually) or brown.

Antlion larvae are predators on other insects. Members of the genus Myrmeleon (7 species in North America) dig a funnel-shaped hole, then sit at the bottom and wait for some hapless bug, usually an ant, to fall in. They grab the prey item with large jaws and pull it under the sand -- inspiration for many a horror movie.

Antlions (Family Myrmeleontidae)
Antlion adult
Myrmeleon antlion larvae are the ones that dig the familiar "doodlebug" traps in soft or sandy soils, usually under an overhanging rock, floor of a cave, or under a log where they are less likely to be disturbed by rain or wind. Sometimes they are just out under the open sky. When a prey item falls into the trap, the larvae will kick up sand and shower the victim to hasten and ensure its fall to the bottom of the trap.
Antlions (Family Myrmeleontidae) Antlion traps. Larval antlions kick sand up and outward, forming a conical pit with steep, loose sides. The antlion sits in the bottom of the pit, with nothing showing but its jaws, as it waits for an ant to wander along and fall into the trap. It an ant falls in, the antlion will kick more sand up in an effort to knock the ant into the bottom of the pit. When the ant falls in, the antlion grabs it with powerful jaws and pulls it under the sand where the hapless victim becomes a good meal.
Antlions (Family Myrmeleontidae) Ant lion larvae.
Antlions (Family Myrmeleontidae) Antlions (Family Myrmeleontidae)
Antlions (Family Myrmeleontidae) Antlions (Family Myrmeleontidae)
Antlion more to come ...
Antlions (Family Myrmeleontidae)
Antlion traps in loose soil in a shallow cave
Antlions (Family Myrmeleontidae)
Antlion traps in loose soil in a shallow cave
Antlions (Family Myrmeleontidae)
Antlion larvae "doodlings" in the sand; hence the name "doodlebugs"
Antlions (Family Myrmeleontidae)
Antlion sand trap

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 101030

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