On this episode we discuss antlions, these are the insects that build deadly pit traps in the sand, somewhat like the Sarlacc pit monster in Star Wars. We start by talking about Neuroptera, the insect order containing antlions, and then the specific ecology and pit building behavior of antlions. We finish by discussing a couple behavioral experiments testing if antlions can learn and modify their foraging after just a short period of training.
In addition to the podcast we also have a short video showing antlion prey capture in action. This was shot in Florida a few years ago when we were out and about shooting clips for another project. We just happened to run across an antlion pit, just another miniature marvel that’s easy to overlook.
References for this episode
- Tauber CA, et al. Neuroptera: (lacewings, antlions). In Encyclopedia of insects. 2009.
- Michel B, et al. A first higher-level time-calibrated phylogeny of antlions (Neuroptera: Myrmeleontidae). Molecular phylogenetics and evolution. 2017.
- Turner CH. Notes on the behavior of the ant-lion with emphasis on the feeding activities and letisimulation. The Biological Bulletin. 1915.
- Hollis KL, et al. Specialized learning in antlions (Neuroptera: Myrmeleontidae), pit-digging predators, shortens vulnerable larval stage. PloS One. 2011.
- Kuszewska K, et al. Sedentary antlion larvae (Neuroptera: Myrmeleontidae) use vibrational cues to modify their foraging strategies. Animal Cognition. 2016.