Lacy winged visitor in Tomato Patch
Location: Central Florida, Apopka
April 14, 2011 10:17 pm
While working in my garden the other day, I witnessed this critter fly across my tomato patch and light on one of the Tomato cages. I grabbed my camera to add it to my album of garden visitors and while I have excellent images, I’m unable to find out the name of my guest. The weather here in Apopka is in the mid 80’s . Typical for the first week of April. The closest body of water is approximately 500 yards across the street in a cow pasture.
It is quite perceptive that you referred to this Antlion as a “lacy winged visitor” because Antlions are closely related to Lacewings and they are both grouped together in the Nerve Winged Insect order Neuroptera. Antlions like Lacewings are predatory. They have a feeble flight. Many Antlions have larvae known as Doodlebugs that dig pits in sandy soil. The Doodlebug buries itself at the bottom of the pit with only its massive jaws exposed and it waits for prey to stumble into the pit. We have found unsubstantiated references, including this wonderful Worsley School page, that adult Antlions feed upon nectar and pollen, or that they do not eat as adults. Most information about their predatory habits is restricted to the larval Doodlebugs.
That is just way too cool !!!!!!!! Thank You so much for your response.
I have Ant lions or Doodlebugs all around my house and I have always thought of them as a beneficial insect acting as a sentinel protecting the border of my home.
It’s photo’s like this that make me glad I pay attention to natures many eyes that are watching me as I work in the yard and outside in our world in general.
Thanks once again for sharing your knowledge on this incredible website.
As my Thanks to you for the quick ID of my Garden Visitor, I went on a “Lion Hunt” for you.
Attached are the results of the Hunt. I hope you enjoy them.
Hi again Lee,
That is one impressive Antlion colony. We are surprised that you never noticed the adult Antlions before. We understand that in some areas, children are taught to capture Doodlebugs by fishing with a blade of grass or a piece of straw from a broom. The Doodlebug latches onto the grass or straw with its jaws and it can then be extracted from the pit it has dug.