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ant lion

Q:  My son came home after playing with a friend to ask me about an ant lion.  Is there such a thing and if so, what does it look like?

A:   They do indeed exist and I suspect you have seen the larval mounds and did not even realize what you were observing.  Many a youth as played along the ground and watched the antlion set a trap for its favorite prey – termites, beetle larvae and ants. The antlion, Glenurus gratus, larvae looks very menacing with its large, toothed mandible.  They use these mandibles to capture and remove the fluid from their prey. The prey is bitten by the antlion, and then injected with a toxin which renders the prey immobile. The antlion build cone-shaped pits in which the prey fall.  If the victim tries to climb out of the pit, the antlion with flick grains of sand at the prey ultimately knocking the prey back into its grasp.  Antlions are terrific insects to keep in a classroom or a container at home as they are found abundantly and easy to feed.  For more information on keeping an antlion in the classroom check out the University of Florida publication “Antlion Rearing” http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in760