Other common names: Doodlebugs, Sand Dragon
Scientific name: Myrmeleontidae
Antlions are distributed worldwide and usually make residence in open sandy and arid areas. They dig inverted cone-like pits that are used to trap prey items. Antlions usually stay in larva form for up to 3 years before turning into mature adults.
Appearance / health:
Antlions are the larval stage of the Lacewing Dragonfly, also known as the Antlion Lacewing. Antlions are almost grub like with a large, fat, soft body. The color is usually a patterned gray, brown, and tan. They have very short legs, large pinchers and bristles all over their bodies. Total length is usually 1/2 inch to 1 inch.
Behavior / temperament:
Antlions are harmless to humans but deadly to the prey that fall victim to its pit. They may be small and barely noticeable, but Antlions will make an interesting, one-of-a-kind pet for anyone of any experience level.
Any container will usually work for Antlions. A large deep deli cup or small critter container can house 1 Antlion. Multiple Antlions may be housed together but spaced far enough away from each other so they can build and dig their pits.
Temperatures should resemble natural outside temperatures where the Antlions were found. If they were specially ordered and not caught from the wild, either way, the temps should be normal summer time temperatures. Generally anywhere from 75-85F will work. Humidity should be low as they live in sand and if too much moisture is present they will not be able to properly keep their pits.
The most common food for Antlions are ants, however when ants aren’t abundant, pin head crickets and fruit flies can be fed. Other small non-pesticide insects may be fed as well. Feed the Antlions 1-2 times a day.
It's like that creepy bug from the Wrath of Kahn mixed with Star Wars' Sarlaac pit! (spelling?)
When not feeding, the larvae of these bugs can be pretty, shall we say...discrete.
Adults of this species look like dragonflies (actually, the smaller bodied kind of dragonfly more properly referred to as a damselfly). Unlike dragonflies and damselflies, the wings of these bugs rest along the back, tentlike, like wings of moths. Adults are sparse feeders and may feed a bit on nectar or possibly pollen(?). The adult form is short-lived and not the primary "pet" phase for this insect.
It's the larvae of the insect that are interesting and fun. Buried at the base of a conical pit, usually in sand, the larvae await small predators that happen to fall into the pit. Antlions have huge mandibles that quickly crush and then macerate prey. The thrill of the begins when a feeder insect is dropped into the habitat container. The insect wanders along and eventually begins to fall into the pit. The antlion may kick up some sand to cause an avalanche and soon the feeder is tumbling to its doom. When finished, the antlion will often flick the dried feeder remains some distance from its pit.
Handling? If one found itself between your fingers, it could probably give you a little nip, but these small bugs have trouble getting a mandible-hold on anything as large as a finger.
From Pet Bug Dealer Jul 24 2010 9:04PM