|Life cycle of a Common Antlion|
Antlions are known to most people as the devious creatures that dig funnel-shaped pits in loose sand and not only sit in the bottom waiting for an unsuspecting ant that may fall in, but even throwing sand at their victims to make them loose their footing. I found them very difficult to photograph so I'm showing here an old illustration from Brehm's Thierleben (1895). The artist cheated: the larva on the left should be burried so only the pincer-shaped mandibles stick out of the sand. But I like the image because it shows the larva (left), the pupa (right) and the adult, winged antlion in the middle.
Myrmeleon dig those ant trapping pits. The larva in my picture was walking around openly catching insects under our porch light at night.
|'trophic' eggs (left) and fertile eggs of Ululodes sp. photo by Hannah Nendick-Mason|
|Larvae of Brown and Green Lacewings|
|Green Lacewing eggs|
|Lomamyia sp., Berothidae (Beaded Lacewings)|
Adult Beaded Lacewings are nocturnal and come to lights around our house in the desert bajada. They lay stalked eggs on wood surfaces near termite nests. The larvae move in with and prey on the termites. They discharge a gas containing an allomone from their anus (Johnson and Hagen, 1981) to immobilize their prey.The gas is potent enough to paralyze several termite larvae and even adults at a time, but reportedly it has no effect on other non-termite 'house guests'.
When black-lighting for insects in the mountains, I often encounter several species of Mantid Flies.
They look and behave very much like small Praying Mantids. They use their raptorial arms to grab moths and other small insects that are also attracted by the light. In Arizona, the impressive Wasp Mantidfly lives in the canyons of the sky islands. While other morphs of that same species show brown and yellow banding of typical wasp mimicry, ours seems to mimic the coloration of Polistes comanche, the most common paper wasp of those habitats. Their larvae live as parasitoids in spider nests.