Uncovering Antlion Habitats: Discover Where These Creatures Dwell

Antlions, often mistaken for mere insects of the sand, are in fact fascinating creatures that play a unique role in the ecosystem. 

These insects, known for their intriguing predatory behavior as larvae, are a testament to nature’s ingenuity. 

While their name might suggest a fierce, lion-like demeanor, antlions are far from it. 

Where Do Antlions Live
Antlion

Instead, they are a perfect example of how even the smallest creatures have evolved specialized strategies to survive and thrive in their environment. 

Their presence not only adds to the biodiversity of a region but also helps maintain balance in the insect world. 

In this article, we will discuss their habitats and their significance in the ecosystem.

What are Antlions?

Antlions are insects that belong to the family Myrmeleontidae, with over 2,000 species described worldwide

Adult antlions have elongated bodies and two pairs of long, transparent wings. They bear a resemblance to damselflies but are distinguished by their clubbed antennae.

The larvae, often termed “doodlebugs,” present a stark contrast in appearance from the adults. 

They have a stout, oval-shaped body and are equipped with large, sickle-shaped jaws, essential for their predatory behavior.

While the adult antlions are primarily nocturnal, feeding on nectar and pollen, the larvae are ambush predators. 

They craft cone-shaped pits in sandy or loose soil, lying in ambush for ants or other small insects to tumble in. 

Once ensnared, the prey is rapidly captured and devoured by the concealed larva.

Doodlebug

The Marvelous Engineering of Antlion Traps

Antlions, in their larval stage, exhibit a remarkable behavior of constructing pits to trap their prey. These pits are meticulously crafted in sandy or loose soil. 

The larvae begin by burrowing backward into the soil, using their abdomen to carve out a circular pattern. 

As they dig deeper, they employ their large, sickle-shaped jaws to flick out excess soil, creating a funnel-shaped depression..

The science behind this funnel-shaped pit is both simple and ingenious. 

The steep, loose walls of the pit make it extremely challenging for small insects, especially ants, to climb out once they’ve fallen in. 

As the prey struggles to escape, it causes a mini avalanche of sand grains that further pull the insect towards the center of the pit. 

Positioned perfectly at the bottom, the antlion larva waits with its jaws wide open. 

Any movement in the pit alerts the antlion, which then uses its jaws to flick more sand at the prey, hastening its descent to the bottom, where it’s swiftly captured.

This trapping mechanism is not just about the physical structure of the pit but also the behavior of the antlion. 

The combination of the pit’s design and the antlion’s strategic position at the bottom ensures a high success rate in capturing prey.

Gaping Jaws of a Doodlebug

Where Do Antlions Live in the World?

Antlions have a truly global presence, with species found across various continents. 

From the Americas to Asia and from Africa to Europe, these insects have carved out niches for themselves in diverse geographical terrains.

In North America, antlions are commonly found throughout the United States, especially in the southern states where sandy soils are prevalent. 

Their distribution extends southward, reaching various countries in Central and South America.

Asia and Africa, with their vast expanses of arid and semi-arid regions, also host a significant number of antlion species. 

In Europe, they are primarily found in the Mediterranean regions, which offer sandy terrain favorable for their life cycle.

Australia, known for its diverse insect life, is no stranger to antlions either. They are found in various parts of the continent, especially in areas with sandy substrates.

Despite their extensive distribution, one continent where antlions are notably absent is Antarctica, due to its extreme cold conditions.

For those keen on a visual representation of their distribution, this map detailing their spread across North America offers a comprehensive overview. 

Antlion

Where Do Antlions Live in the US?

Antlions are widely distributed across the United States, marking their presence from coast to coast. 

Their adaptability to various terrains is evident, but they predominantly favor regions with sandy or loose soils.

The southern states, such as Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and Florida, are notable hotspots for antlion activity. 

Florida, specifically, is home to 22 different species of antlions.

These states, with their warmer climates and sandy terrains, offer the ideal conditions for antlions. 

Additionally, coastal regions like California and the Carolinas also witness a significant presence of these insects, attributed to the sandy beaches and dunes.

The Unique Habitats of Antlions

Antlions demonstrate remarkable adaptability in their choice of habitats. While they are often associated with sandy terrain, they inhabit a diverse range of soil types. 

From the fine grains of quartz sand to the coarser textures of red sandstone, their presence is widespread. 

They also thrive in areas with dust, humus, rotted wood, gypsum, and even coal ashes. 

Antlion: Palpares speciosus

Each of these substrates, while distinct, offers the antlions a suitable environment for survival.

The common thread tying these diverse habitats together is the presence of dry, loose particles. 

For antlions, especially during their larval stage, these particles are crucial. They facilitate the construction of their iconic funnel-shaped pits, which are essential for their predatory behavior. 

The loose nature of the soil ensures that the walls of the pit remain unstable for potential prey, making their escape challenging. 

Moreover, the dry conditions are vital as they prevent the pits from collapsing due to moisture, ensuring the antlion’s trap remains effective. 

In essence, while antlions can adapt to various soil types, the presence of dry, loose particles is paramount for their predatory success.

How Long Do Antlions Live?

The lifespan of antlions varies between their larval and adult stages. 

As larvae, commonly referred to as “doodlebugs,” they can live for up to three years, depending on environmental conditions and food availability. 

During this time, they remain primarily underground, constructing pits and feeding on trapped prey.

Upon reaching adulthood, the antlion’s lifespan shortens considerably. Adult antlions typically live for about a month. 

However, this duration can vary based on species and environmental factors. During this brief period, they focus on reproduction, ensuring the continuation of their lineage.

Several factors influence the longevity of antlions. The availability of food, especially for the larvae, plays a crucial role. 

Antlion

Larvae with consistent access to prey tend to develop faster and healthier. 

Environmental conditions, such as temperature and humidity, also impact their lifespan. 

Extreme conditions can stress the antlions, potentially reducing their life expectancy. 

Additionally, predation is a constant threat, especially for the adult antlions, which are preyed upon by birds, spiders, and other larger insects.

Are Antlions Dangerous? Do They Bite Humans?

Antlions, despite their somewhat intimidating name and predatory behavior, are not dangerous to humans. 

Both in their larval and adult stages, antlions are primarily focused on small insects as their prey, particularly ants.

The larvae, with their impressive, sickle-shaped jaws, are adept at capturing and consuming small insects that fall into their pits. 

While these jaws are formidable tools for trapping their prey, they are not designed to harm humans. 

If handled, an antlion larva might try to bite, but it is unlikely to break the skin or cause any harm.

Adult antlions, on the other hand, are delicate creatures with a diet that mainly consists of nectar and pollen. They pose no threat to humans and are not known to bite.

Misconceptions about antlions, often stemming from their predatory nature as larvae and their somewhat fearsome appearance, can lead to undue fears. 

However, it’s essential to understand that these creatures are harmless to larger animals and humans. 

They play a vital role in the ecosystem by controlling pest populations and should be appreciated for their unique behaviors and contributions.

Lastly, the antlion’s conical pits can be somewhat of a nuisance to gardeners, and the best way to get rid of antlions is to invite natural predators to also be part of the ecosystem.

Antlion Larva

The Beneficial Role of Antlions

Antlions, often overlooked in the vast world of insects, play a pivotal role in maintaining ecological balance. 

One of their most significant contributions is natural insect control. 

As larvae, antlions are voracious predators, primarily feeding on ants and other small insects that fall into their meticulously crafted pits. 

By doing so, they help regulate insect populations, especially those of ants, which can sometimes become invasive or overpopulated in certain areas.

Beyond mere population control, antlions contribute to the ecosystem’s health by promoting soil aeration. 

As they dig their pits, they turn the soil, allowing for better water infiltration and reducing soil compaction. 

This activity can enhance the soil’s health, benefiting other plants and organisms in the vicinity.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does an antlion eat?

Antlions primarily feed on ants and other small insects. In their larval stage, antlions are ambush predators that create funnel-shaped pits in sandy or loose soil. 
When ants or other small insects accidentally fall into these pits, the antlion larvae quickly grab them with their large, sickle-shaped jaws and consume them. 
As adults, antlions shift their diet and primarily feed on nectar and pollen, although some species might still prey on smaller insects during their adult phase.

Where do antlion larvae live?

Antlion larvae, often referred to as “doodlebugs,” primarily live in sandy or loose soil. They are renowned for constructing funnel-shaped pits in these soils, which serve as traps for their prey. 
When an ant or another small insect falls into one of these pits, the antlion larva, positioned at the bottom, quickly captures and consumes it. 
The choice of sandy or loose soil is crucial as it allows the larvae to easily construct their pits and ensures the pit walls are unstable for potential prey, making escape difficult. 
In addition to sandy terrains, some antlion larvae species can be found in other substrates like dust, humus, rotted wood, gypsum, and coal ashes.

Where can you find antlions?

Antlions are found across the globe, with a notable presence on every continent except Antarctica. In the US, they are widespread, especially in southern states like Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and Florida, due to the sandy terrain. They are also commonly found in coastal regions such as California and the Carolinas. 

Conclusion

In summary, antlions are fascinating insects with a global presence, excluding Antarctica. In the U.S., they predominantly inhabit southern states and coastal regions, thriving in sandy terrains. 

As larvae, they create funnel-shaped pits in the soil to trap and consume ants and other small insects. 

Adult antlions, resembling damselflies, primarily feed on nectar and pollen. 

These insects play a crucial ecological role, aiding in natural insect control and serving as prey for larger predators. 

They’re harmless to humans. Their unique behaviors, from pit construction to their role in the food chain, underscore their importance in ecosystems.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Antlion: Family Myrmeleontidae

 

Antlion?
I found this 2" long bug on a cool August morning in Sonora, Texas. I am thinking it is an adult antlion but have not found its scientific name. Thanks,
Jo

Hi Jo,
For some reason, an in depth Antlion taxonomy with images is not available. Perhaps because it is so difficult to distinguish individual species they are generally grouped into the family Myrmeleontidae. We researched Antlion Taxonomy and found this information. The site The Antlion Pit has some fascinating anecdotal information.

Letter 2 – Antlion from British Virgin Islands

 

Adult Antlion
February 3, 2010
I photographed this adult antlion a little past midnight on Dec 22, 2009 on Necker Island, BVI. I was wondering what particular species it was.
Donald Gudehus
Necker Island, British Virgin Islands

Antlion

Hi Donald,
The exact species identification of this lovely Antlion would be a job for a specialist in Neuropterans, or even more specifically, a specialist in Myrmeleontids.  Alas, we here at What’s That Bug? do not fit that bill, but perhaps a Myrmeleontidist will write in with a response.

Letter 3 – Antlion from South Africa

 

Is it a moth?
February 11, 2010
Large dragon fly and moth cross breed on my sisters farm in the semi desert Great Karoo region of South Africa. They came out at night to outside lights. The cat likes to eat them.
karoo
South Africa, Great Karoo

Antlion

Dear karoo,
Wow, that is a large Antlion.  Antlions in the family Myrmeleontidae are not closely related to either Dragonflies or Moths, but rather, they are classified in the order Neuroptera, which included Lacewings and Owlflies.  We tried a websearch of “Antlion South Africa” and we found ourselves on an interesting Discover Life page that allowed us to check various descriptions, and results popped up.  We checked “abdomen color red uniformly” based on one of your photos, and we got a list of four species.  We did not get any images, so we decided to web search the names individually.  Palpares immensus is listed on a website, the Antlion Pit, as being:  “Another ‘giant’ antlion; found in South Africa.
”  While we are uncertain of the species identify of your Antlion, we would wager a guess that Palpares immensus might be your Antlion.  At least we had success with finding a nice Kruger Part Times page on Antlions.

Antlion

Letter 4 – Antlion from Malawi

 

Unknown Beauty
Location: Dwangwa, Malawi
May 7, 2012 7:14 am
Haai! i found this curiouse winged insect sitting aginst one of our windows, i had no idea what it could be.
But when i pinned it i could examine it closely, I paged through the curiouse world of bugs and it seams like it can be of the Order Neuroptera?
After more reaserch I found an old drawing of a few insects of this order together on a page, but the wording next to the insect it looks almoust identical to is unclear and now I still don’t know what it is exactly…
Signature: jani

Antlion

Hi Jani,
You are correct that this insect is a Neuropteran.  It is an Antlion and we did find a matching photo that was taken at Dzalanyama on FlickeR, but it is not identified to the species level.  While we are honored that you are using The Curious World of Bugs and What’s That Bug? to identify your discoveries, you might try to see if there is a guidebook to your local species available, even if it is an outdated book.

Antlion

Letter 5 – Antlion from Afghanistan

 

Subject: MOTH?
Location: AFGHANISTAN
August 2, 2013 6:42 am
HI , I WAS SENT THIS PICTURE FROM AFGHANISTAN ,AND WAS WONDERING WHAT TYPE OF MOTH IT IS(WAS) ?
Signature: JOHN

Antlion
Antlion

Hi John,
This sure appears to be an Antlion to us.

Letter 6 – Antlion from Costa Rica

 

Subject: what’s this?
Location: guanacaste costa rica
December 21, 2013 2:47 pm
ALoha, Very interested to know what kind of insect this is…reminds me of damsel fly or dragon fly…seems to be nocturnal…
Signature: however u want

Antlion
Antlion

This is actually an Antlion, an insect classified as a Neuropteran along with Lacewings and Owlflies.

many thanks!! aloha

Letter 7 – Antlion from Australia

 

Subject: Moth? with transparent wings
Location: Tocumwal NSW 2714 Australia
February 16, 2014 1:10 pm
Hi,
This little lovely is 6cm long from tip to tip.
Body is ‘furry’
Wings are transparent and iridescent with small black and grey markings.
Location is Tocumwal, NSW on the Murray River.
Hope you can help identify.
Signature: Sue Trewhella

Antlion
Antlion

Dear Sue,
Your mystery insect is an Antlion, and we believe it is
 Heoclisis fundata  based on the photo on Atlas of Living Australia.

Letter 8 – Antlion from Botswana

 

Subject: Beautiful white winged antlion
Location: Central Kalahari, Botswana
April 9, 2015 7:37 am
Hey guys 🙂
I found this antlion in the beginning of march, and I have never seen such a beautiful antlion!!
It came to our dining area in our camp during the evening, when we had the lights on. I haven’t seen it since that one night and some of the guys that have been here for several years, had never seen it before. We see a lot of Bark Antlions and Dotted Veld Antlions along with several others and have antlion larvea spread throughout the camp. The surrounding landscape is bushveld of Acacia and T. sericae.
I hope you can help me with an ID of the species, since I haven’t had much luck by myself… Otherwise, can we at least agree that it IS an amazing antlion 😀
Signature: Mathias

Antlion
Painted Antlion

Dear Mathias,
This truly is a gorgeous Antlion, and we thought we had an identity for you when we quickly discovered a matching image on the Walk in Africa blog, but alas, it is only identified as an Antlion with no species name.
  We located additional images on iSpot where it is identified as a Painted Antlion, Tomatares citrinus.  We also discovered it pictured on a stamp from Zimbabwe on the Insects on Stamps site.

Antlion
Painted Antlion
Painted Antlion on a stamp from Zimbabwe
Painted Antlion on a stamp from Zimbabwe

Letter 9 – Antlion from Turkey: Palpares libelluloides

 

Subject: Antlion?
Location: Western Turkey
September 16, 2015 5:45 pm
Hi. Can you please identify this antlion(?) ? I took this photo on may, 2015. Thank you!
Signature: Antlion

Antlion:  Palpares libelluloides
Antlion: Palpares libelluloides

We believe that based on images posted to hlasek.com and Visoflora that your Antlion is Palpares libelluloides.

Letter 10 – Antlion from India

 

Subject: Antlions in india
Location: bandipur national park
October 24, 2015 6:23 am
Hi
I snapped this at a resort in soth India today, was told it was probably a hawk moth, figured it to be an antlion, but don’t know what type…then found your site and figured I’ll give it a shot and ask…
Signature: Smitha

Antlion
Antlion

Dear Smitha,
You are correct that this is an Antlion in the family Myrmeleontidae, but we don’t think we will be able to provide you with much more information about the species.  We found a similar image from India on the Alamy stock photo site, but it is not identified, and we found a similar looking French Antlion, also on Alamy, that is identified as 
Palpares libelluloides.  Perhaps your individual is in the same genus.  According to TrekNature:  “This species is widespread in the Mediterranean regions and it is mainly present in Albania, Belgium. Bulgaria, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Romania and Spain.”  According to the India Biodiversity Portal, the genus is found in India.

Antlion
Antlion

Letter 11 – Antlion from Australia

 

Subject: Moth identification
Location: Between Port Kenny and Streaky Bay SA
February 28, 2016 4:10 am
Can you tell me what this moth is seen in SA?
Thanks
Signature: Jack Ritchie

Antlion
Antlion

Dear Jack,
This is NOT a moth.  It is an Antlion, and we believe it might be
Heoclisis fundata based on images posted to the Atlas of Living Australia.

Thanks Daniel
We saw it at Murphy’s haystacks on one of the rocks. I note in the atlas that there aren’t recorded sightings of them in that area.
Thanks so much for what you do. Brilliant
Talk soon
Jack

Letter 12 – Antlion from Cyprus

 

Subject:  What’s that bug?!
Geographic location of the bug:  Northern Cyprus
Date: 09/21/2017
Time: 08:01 AM EDT
Hey bug man, what’s this bug?!
How you want your letter signed:  Jade

Antlion

Dear Jade,
This Neuropteran is commonly called an Antlion, and the larvae of many species are subterranean predators that wait buried at the bottom of a pit for ants and other insects to tumble into their waiting mandibles.  Larvae are called Doodlebugs.

Letter 13 – Antlion from Lesbos

 

Subject:  Possible lacewing
Geographic location of the bug:  Lesbos
Date: 09/22/2017
Time: 07:50 AM EDT
Hi Daniel,
Another one for you.
It looks like a lacewing but doesn’t have the wing extensions.
I can’t find it on the internet and would appreciate your help as I would like to use the image in a talk to an RSPB group,
Regards,
How you want your letter signed:  William Smiton

Antlion

Dear William,
This is an Antlion, and they are classified with Lacewings as members of the order Neuroptera.  We believe we have identified your Antlion as
Palpares libelluloides thanks to Ray Wilson Bird Photography where it states:  “Adult antlions can easily be mistaken for dragonflies or damselflies, especially impressive species such as Palpares libelluloides, the largest of the European antlions. They can all be readily distinguished from the Odonata, however, by their thickly clubbed antennae.”  According to iNaturalist:  “This species is widespread in the Mediterranean regions and it is mainly present in Albania, Bulgaria, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Spain and Turkey. It can be found in thickets and rocky slopes up to about 1000 meters above sea level.”

Many thanks Daniel. That will assist greatly with my talk, regards

 

Letter 14 – Antlion from South Africa

 

Subject:  Unidentified Flying Insect
Geographic location of the bug:  Gauteng South Africa
Date: 01/22/2019
Time: 02:07 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi.
I found this beautiful insect on our patio upstairs close to a light source at night.
Any idea what it might be?
It doesn’t look like a Dragonfly though.
How you want your letter signed:  Damian

Antlion

Dear Damian,
Though it resembles a Dragonfly, this gorgeous insect is actually an Antlion, and it is more closely related to Lacewings and Owlflies.  We believe it is
Palpares speciosus, a species that is pictured on iSpot.

Antlion

Thank you so much for the info!

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Antlion: Family Myrmeleontidae

 

Antlion?
I found this 2" long bug on a cool August morning in Sonora, Texas. I am thinking it is an adult antlion but have not found its scientific name. Thanks,
Jo

Hi Jo,
For some reason, an in depth Antlion taxonomy with images is not available. Perhaps because it is so difficult to distinguish individual species they are generally grouped into the family Myrmeleontidae. We researched Antlion Taxonomy and found this information. The site The Antlion Pit has some fascinating anecdotal information.

Letter 2 – Antlion from British Virgin Islands

 

Adult Antlion
February 3, 2010
I photographed this adult antlion a little past midnight on Dec 22, 2009 on Necker Island, BVI. I was wondering what particular species it was.
Donald Gudehus
Necker Island, British Virgin Islands

Antlion

Hi Donald,
The exact species identification of this lovely Antlion would be a job for a specialist in Neuropterans, or even more specifically, a specialist in Myrmeleontids.  Alas, we here at What’s That Bug? do not fit that bill, but perhaps a Myrmeleontidist will write in with a response.

Letter 3 – Antlion from South Africa

 

Is it a moth?
February 11, 2010
Large dragon fly and moth cross breed on my sisters farm in the semi desert Great Karoo region of South Africa. They came out at night to outside lights. The cat likes to eat them.
karoo
South Africa, Great Karoo

Antlion

Dear karoo,
Wow, that is a large Antlion.  Antlions in the family Myrmeleontidae are not closely related to either Dragonflies or Moths, but rather, they are classified in the order Neuroptera, which included Lacewings and Owlflies.  We tried a websearch of “Antlion South Africa” and we found ourselves on an interesting Discover Life page that allowed us to check various descriptions, and results popped up.  We checked “abdomen color red uniformly” based on one of your photos, and we got a list of four species.  We did not get any images, so we decided to web search the names individually.  Palpares immensus is listed on a website, the Antlion Pit, as being:  “Another ‘giant’ antlion; found in South Africa.
”  While we are uncertain of the species identify of your Antlion, we would wager a guess that Palpares immensus might be your Antlion.  At least we had success with finding a nice Kruger Part Times page on Antlions.

Antlion

Letter 4 – Antlion from Malawi

 

Unknown Beauty
Location: Dwangwa, Malawi
May 7, 2012 7:14 am
Haai! i found this curiouse winged insect sitting aginst one of our windows, i had no idea what it could be.
But when i pinned it i could examine it closely, I paged through the curiouse world of bugs and it seams like it can be of the Order Neuroptera?
After more reaserch I found an old drawing of a few insects of this order together on a page, but the wording next to the insect it looks almoust identical to is unclear and now I still don’t know what it is exactly…
Signature: jani

Antlion

Hi Jani,
You are correct that this insect is a Neuropteran.  It is an Antlion and we did find a matching photo that was taken at Dzalanyama on FlickeR, but it is not identified to the species level.  While we are honored that you are using The Curious World of Bugs and What’s That Bug? to identify your discoveries, you might try to see if there is a guidebook to your local species available, even if it is an outdated book.

Antlion

Letter 5 – Antlion from Afghanistan

 

Subject: MOTH?
Location: AFGHANISTAN
August 2, 2013 6:42 am
HI , I WAS SENT THIS PICTURE FROM AFGHANISTAN ,AND WAS WONDERING WHAT TYPE OF MOTH IT IS(WAS) ?
Signature: JOHN

Antlion
Antlion

Hi John,
This sure appears to be an Antlion to us.

Letter 6 – Antlion from Costa Rica

 

Subject: what’s this?
Location: guanacaste costa rica
December 21, 2013 2:47 pm
ALoha, Very interested to know what kind of insect this is…reminds me of damsel fly or dragon fly…seems to be nocturnal…
Signature: however u want

Antlion
Antlion

This is actually an Antlion, an insect classified as a Neuropteran along with Lacewings and Owlflies.

many thanks!! aloha

Letter 7 – Antlion from Australia

 

Subject: Moth? with transparent wings
Location: Tocumwal NSW 2714 Australia
February 16, 2014 1:10 pm
Hi,
This little lovely is 6cm long from tip to tip.
Body is ‘furry’
Wings are transparent and iridescent with small black and grey markings.
Location is Tocumwal, NSW on the Murray River.
Hope you can help identify.
Signature: Sue Trewhella

Antlion
Antlion

Dear Sue,
Your mystery insect is an Antlion, and we believe it is
 Heoclisis fundata  based on the photo on Atlas of Living Australia.

Letter 8 – Antlion from Botswana

 

Subject: Beautiful white winged antlion
Location: Central Kalahari, Botswana
April 9, 2015 7:37 am
Hey guys 🙂
I found this antlion in the beginning of march, and I have never seen such a beautiful antlion!!
It came to our dining area in our camp during the evening, when we had the lights on. I haven’t seen it since that one night and some of the guys that have been here for several years, had never seen it before. We see a lot of Bark Antlions and Dotted Veld Antlions along with several others and have antlion larvea spread throughout the camp. The surrounding landscape is bushveld of Acacia and T. sericae.
I hope you can help me with an ID of the species, since I haven’t had much luck by myself… Otherwise, can we at least agree that it IS an amazing antlion 😀
Signature: Mathias

Antlion
Painted Antlion

Dear Mathias,
This truly is a gorgeous Antlion, and we thought we had an identity for you when we quickly discovered a matching image on the Walk in Africa blog, but alas, it is only identified as an Antlion with no species name.
  We located additional images on iSpot where it is identified as a Painted Antlion, Tomatares citrinus.  We also discovered it pictured on a stamp from Zimbabwe on the Insects on Stamps site.

Antlion
Painted Antlion
Painted Antlion on a stamp from Zimbabwe
Painted Antlion on a stamp from Zimbabwe

Letter 9 – Antlion from Turkey: Palpares libelluloides

 

Subject: Antlion?
Location: Western Turkey
September 16, 2015 5:45 pm
Hi. Can you please identify this antlion(?) ? I took this photo on may, 2015. Thank you!
Signature: Antlion

Antlion:  Palpares libelluloides
Antlion: Palpares libelluloides

We believe that based on images posted to hlasek.com and Visoflora that your Antlion is Palpares libelluloides.

Letter 10 – Antlion from India

 

Subject: Antlions in india
Location: bandipur national park
October 24, 2015 6:23 am
Hi
I snapped this at a resort in soth India today, was told it was probably a hawk moth, figured it to be an antlion, but don’t know what type…then found your site and figured I’ll give it a shot and ask…
Signature: Smitha

Antlion
Antlion

Dear Smitha,
You are correct that this is an Antlion in the family Myrmeleontidae, but we don’t think we will be able to provide you with much more information about the species.  We found a similar image from India on the Alamy stock photo site, but it is not identified, and we found a similar looking French Antlion, also on Alamy, that is identified as 
Palpares libelluloides.  Perhaps your individual is in the same genus.  According to TrekNature:  “This species is widespread in the Mediterranean regions and it is mainly present in Albania, Belgium. Bulgaria, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Romania and Spain.”  According to the India Biodiversity Portal, the genus is found in India.

Antlion
Antlion

Letter 11 – Antlion from Australia

 

Subject: Moth identification
Location: Between Port Kenny and Streaky Bay SA
February 28, 2016 4:10 am
Can you tell me what this moth is seen in SA?
Thanks
Signature: Jack Ritchie

Antlion
Antlion

Dear Jack,
This is NOT a moth.  It is an Antlion, and we believe it might be
Heoclisis fundata based on images posted to the Atlas of Living Australia.

Thanks Daniel
We saw it at Murphy’s haystacks on one of the rocks. I note in the atlas that there aren’t recorded sightings of them in that area.
Thanks so much for what you do. Brilliant
Talk soon
Jack

Letter 12 – Antlion from Cyprus

 

Subject:  What’s that bug?!
Geographic location of the bug:  Northern Cyprus
Date: 09/21/2017
Time: 08:01 AM EDT
Hey bug man, what’s this bug?!
How you want your letter signed:  Jade

Antlion

Dear Jade,
This Neuropteran is commonly called an Antlion, and the larvae of many species are subterranean predators that wait buried at the bottom of a pit for ants and other insects to tumble into their waiting mandibles.  Larvae are called Doodlebugs.

Letter 13 – Antlion from Lesbos

 

Subject:  Possible lacewing
Geographic location of the bug:  Lesbos
Date: 09/22/2017
Time: 07:50 AM EDT
Hi Daniel,
Another one for you.
It looks like a lacewing but doesn’t have the wing extensions.
I can’t find it on the internet and would appreciate your help as I would like to use the image in a talk to an RSPB group,
Regards,
How you want your letter signed:  William Smiton

Antlion

Dear William,
This is an Antlion, and they are classified with Lacewings as members of the order Neuroptera.  We believe we have identified your Antlion as
Palpares libelluloides thanks to Ray Wilson Bird Photography where it states:  “Adult antlions can easily be mistaken for dragonflies or damselflies, especially impressive species such as Palpares libelluloides, the largest of the European antlions. They can all be readily distinguished from the Odonata, however, by their thickly clubbed antennae.”  According to iNaturalist:  “This species is widespread in the Mediterranean regions and it is mainly present in Albania, Bulgaria, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Spain and Turkey. It can be found in thickets and rocky slopes up to about 1000 meters above sea level.”

Many thanks Daniel. That will assist greatly with my talk, regards

 

Letter 14 – Antlion from South Africa

 

Subject:  Unidentified Flying Insect
Geographic location of the bug:  Gauteng South Africa
Date: 01/22/2019
Time: 02:07 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi.
I found this beautiful insect on our patio upstairs close to a light source at night.
Any idea what it might be?
It doesn’t look like a Dragonfly though.
How you want your letter signed:  Damian

Antlion

Dear Damian,
Though it resembles a Dragonfly, this gorgeous insect is actually an Antlion, and it is more closely related to Lacewings and Owlflies.  We believe it is
Palpares speciosus, a species that is pictured on iSpot.

Antlion

Thank you so much for the info!

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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