Thursday, September 18, 2014

How to Feed an Antlion

Today I’m sharing photos and writing for kids of all ages.  
When it comes to some things, I’ll always be a kid. 
 I remember very well spending hours watching insects, frogs, 
and whatever other little creatures I could find. 
 I could still be quite content spending time like that.  
It’s just that time is a little harder to find now than it was back then!

I wonder if you have you ever noticed sandy looking
 little cone shaped holes in the ground?  
Do you know what they are? 
Ever wonder who made them, or why they’re there? 

They’re a special kind of trap made by a hungry lion!!!  
Now, it might not be the lion you’re thinking of. 
 It’s not hungry for gazelles and zebras, it’s hungry for ants!  
This lion is kind of ugly.  It’s a dirty brown color with long pinchers in the front 
that are perfect for snagging ants that wander into its trap.  
This Antlion is actually a larva that develops into a flying insect 
which looks a little bit like a small dragonfly or a lacewing. 

 You can often find these Antlion traps under porches, swing sets, picnic tables, 
or anywhere there is bare soil that is loose and dry.
  If you can discover some Antlion pits, 
you’ll probably be able to feed an Antlion. J

 First of all you’ll need to find some ants. 

 Drop one or two into a pit, hold very still, watch, and wait. 
 The ant will try to escape, but the steep sides and loose sand 
will cause it to keep sliding back into the bottom of the trap
 where the Antlion is waiting. 
(Sometimes an extra lucky ant will make it to the top.  
Yay for the American Ninja Ant Warrior!  I’ll let you decide if he has earned his freedom or if you drop him back into the terrible trap.) 
 You may even see dirt shooting up, knocking the ant 
back down to the bottom of the pit where the he can be nabbed.  
This is the Antlion’s dirt flicking trick to keep him from escaping.  
If everything goes right for the Antlion, you will soon see 
the ant disappear as he pulls his prize down underground for supper.
 Here you can see that I've circled Ant Number 2 
who's been caught, and only his legs are sticking out.
 If you would like to actually see the Antlion, you will have to dig him up.  
Take a small spoon and very carefully dig at the side of the pit. 
Don’t go straight down at the bottom 
or you will squish the little guy.  
Gently scoop up the dirt from the very bottom of the pit, 
and spread it out on a light colored paper.  
The Antlion will probably lie on his back with his feet in the air playing dead. 
(Once you return him to his home, he’ll begin burrowing back underground.)

 Here is a small Antlion I dug from a small sized trap.  
The ant is almost as big as he is!

Can you spot the Antlion burrowing back underground?  
They are well camouflaged!  

I would love to hear your Antlion stories or other insect stories in the comment section!

“Praise the Lord from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
stormy winds that do his bidding,
you mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,
wild animals and all cattle,
small creatures and flying birds,
kings of the earth and all nations,
you princes and all rulers on earth,
young men and women,
old men and children.
Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.”
Psalm 148:7-13

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