15 May 2010

Aliens in the garden?

A common site in sandy soil throughout South Africa and I believe the rest of the world, is the sand pit trap of the antlion. Any ant that slips into one of these traps stands a good chance of being eaten - why I say stands a good chance is because I have seen ants flung out of the trap, as an over zealous antlion tries to capture them.

The antlion itself, looks very much like an alien monster to me. Who would imagine that these will eventually transform into a damsel fly-like creature.

Post script - Sunday, 16 May 2010:

 To catch an antlion take a thin stem of grass and gently run it around the edge of the sand trap to mimic an ant trying to escape. If the antlion is at home and hungry, you will soon know it is there as it shoots sand in the direction of the movement.
At this point deftly scoop up a handful of sand from beneath the trap – the soil will be quite sandy, so it is relatively easy to do so.

The next step is to cup your hand and wait. The inclination of the antlion will be to burrow and escape. When you feel a tickling in the palm of your hand you know you have it. That is unless you get a fright and drop the sand.
Slowly get rid of the sand until the antlion is left in your palm. Don’t worry about its pincers, they do not bite – at least I have never been bitten.

Size wise they get up to about 1 cm (2/5th inch) in length, before spinning a cocoon.


CafebyJW said...

How big it is? We have similar thing but it is very tiny, can't get hold of it with hand but fingers.

My Bangkok Through My Eyes

shabby girl said...

Yikes! Very creepy looking! I would much prefer the transformed version! :)

Myredtie said...

When I was growing up on the farm in Western Kansas, we had a huge ant hill taking over part of the lawn. One day, I saw a hornet walk into the hole, and shortly after that the ant hill was dead. Yea, I don't think the hornet did it either, but now I'm wondering if we didn't have a large population of ant lions. Literally, in a week this huge hill had no life to it anymore.

Fotobloggen 2010 said...

the hole has got a nice round shape but the bug.... would not like to touch that...In our garden there are small holes in the lawn all over made by badgers looking for some treats.
Not very popular :-(

christina, sweden

thanks for commenting!

Kcalpesh said...

Goodness that creature is so spooky....

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Firefly said...

I love watching antlion funnels and picking it with a grass to see if they are there, but I have never tried to catch one.

Marmsk said...

My daughters used to like dropping ants into the holes and watch the fun.