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Antlion Larvae Behavior: Capturing the Prey

antlion and ant

Figure 1. An antlion larva (Myrmeleon sp.) reaches for an ant that has fallen into its pit.

© 2005 Mark Swanson
When ants or other small insects come up to the edge of the crater, the soil slips and they slide down, straight into the large, curved, piercing-sucking mandibles of the antlion (Figure 1). It seizes the victim, paralyzes it with the poison injected at the first bite, and then sucks out its vital juices. If the prey manages to stop itself from sliding all the way down the crater, and tries to climb up again, the antlion accurately hurls a rain of sand at it, invariably causing the captive to lose its grip and fall to the bottom. An antlion can capture prey much larger than itself. Forward-pointing bristles on its buried body anchor it so firmly that the violently struggling prey cannot pull the antlion out (Grzimek 1979, 224).

Click to see video Video: "Capturing the Prey" (0:22)
Click to see video Video: "Sucking Out the Prey's Juices" (0:19)

References

Grzimek, Bernard. 1979. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Co.




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