Location: South Carolina
August 31, 2014 6:44 pm
I have never seen this bug before. Is it some kind of dragonfly?
You are not the first person who has written to us mistaking an Antlion for a Dragonfly. In our minds, the greatest similarity they possess is the way the wings move, but not the way the wings are held. The wings of both orders, Neuroptera and Odonata, are able to move independently of one another. Of Neuroptera, BugGuide states: “Four membranous wings: FW and HW about same size or HW a little wider at base; wings usually held rooflike over body at rest; wings generally with many veins.” Of Dragonflies in the suborder Anisoptera of the order Odonata, BugGuide states: “Wings usually held outstretched horizontally at rest. Hindwing is broader at base than the forewing. Male has three terminal appendages on abdomen; female has only two. Males and females often colored differently. Details important to identification include face color, eye color, color and markings on the thorax and wings, color of the pterostigma (small colored area near the front edge of the wing), color and markings of the abdomen and shape of the abdomen. Recently emerged (teneral) individuals are often pale, unmarked, and impossible to identify until they develop the adult color pattern. Some change color several times on the way to sexual maturity (within a few days); some change color with temperature, and some also change color after death.” Additional differences include the complexity of metamorphosis. Dragonflies have incomplete metamorphosis with aquatic nymphs known as Naiads. Antlions have complete metamorphosis which includes a dormant pupa, and the terrestrial larvae are known as Doodlebugs.