Saturday, October 28, 2017

Antlion in Leesburg Florida

The Antlion is a very cool looking insect. The Glenrus gratus antlion is the most attractive or handsome variety seen in Florida. Some might mistake this insect for a dragonfly or damselfly because of the long shape of its wings.

Antlion - Glenrus gratus - Leesburg, FL
Antlion - Glenrus gratus - Leesburg, FL
I observed my first Antlion on August 12, 2017 in Leesburg, Florida. This insect has the longest wings that are longer than its slender body. The markings along the edges of its wings look like dark stitches. Looking at its mandibles and shape, it looks like a stick figure.

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Researching this insect on the University of Florida website, it says this is a common and conspicuous insect in Florida. That's interesting as I've lived in Florida for over 25 years and never observed an Antlion until just recently!
Wheeler (1930) called them "demons of the dust", whereas children in the southern United States coined the term "doodlebugs" to describe their antics.
I have observed some interesting markings in the sand along my side yard that looked like "doodles" and probably were made by the Antlion. Learning more about this insect, the University of Florida reports that they are economically beneficial as "adults commonly feed on caterpillars and aphids, whereas the larvae feed on surface dwellers such as ants and other insect larvae."

I have also observed a few of the sand traps of the Antlion along the sand in my side yard. Personally, I am OK with these insects feeding on the ants as I have plenty of them here in Leesburg, Florida!! Want to know more about this curious winged creature? Check on the Wikipedia reference on the Antlion which tells you probably everything you want or need to know!