e_moon60 (e_moon60) wrote,

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80 acres: Small but mighty (edited next day)

Today's fascinating beast was an adult ant lion that spend the entire day on the screen of my study window.  (Addendum: it now has a confirmed ID as Euption ornatum, with thanks to Dr. John D. Oswald at Texas A&M's Department of Entomology.)  Ant lions, or doodlebugs, are the larval form--they dig those pit traps you find in sand and dust.  (Addendum: I've now been informed that only one genus of antlion larvae dig the pit traps--the others are also predators but just hide in the dirt or litter on the soil.)  The adults are winged, in the order Neuroptera, usually inactive by day (they're fairly weak flyers, for insects) and busy only in the gloaming. 


They remind me a little of Owlflies, except that Owlflies have larger eyes, longer antennae that look more like butterfly antennae, and many of the ones around here stick their abdomens up at an angle from whatever they're perched on.   You can see that this fellow's front legs are almost as long as its antennae. 

The first picture shows it as it rested all day, antennae stretched forward and down, head down, as flat as it could go.  Then around 8 pm, in the last of the sun, it began to move, and the second picture was taken just before it flew away.  The antennae are up, the tips drooping, the head is up, it's up on its legs, and the wings aren't folded.  In an enlargement of this shot, the beautiful colors in the eyes--described by someone on BugGuide.net as "fire opal" eyes, and it fits--show up.  

Tags: insect, photography, widlife
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