You may call them by their innocent-sounding name of Doodlebug, but they are antlions – voracious predators of ants and other insects who fall into their traps.
This time of year, antlion larvae can be found in the sandy soil along the edges of the field at Greenbelt’s Seine Field in Gloucester. And it is the larvae that wait at the bottom of a shallow pit for their prey to fall in and provide an immediate meal.
Their name of Doodlebugs comes from the curved trail of sand that is created as they dig their traps, but since its frightening jaws are primarily used to devour ants, the antlion name may better describe them.
The larvae – which can only walk backwards – are mottled grey or brown with an oversized head and spiny jaws. They are able to go for long periods without food, but mature faster when the food supply is ample.
As adults they bear no resemblance to their larval state – looking more like dragonflies.
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Thank you Jerry Monkman / ecophotography.com, Lynne Holton, Kindra Clineff, Adrian Scholes and John Raleigh.