The Ant-lion is a predatory insect that uses an ingenious way to catch it prey….
It digs a little conical pit in some dry sand or soil and then waits buried at the bottom, with only mandibles sticking out and open wide for some unsupecting insect to fall in.
Any hapless insect that ventures to near the edge of the pit and subsequently fails in, will then struggle to get a good footing and climb out again. This is due to the looseness of the sand particles.
Eventually it starts to descend to the bottom, where the ant-lion is waiting…
The ant-lion has another trick up its sleeve
If the victim looks like it might escape, the ant-lion will respond by then throwing some sand particles at the creature so it looses its already precarious footing! (now that is cheating)
Once the victim is captured in the powerful jaws of the lion then there is usually no escape.
However its not all plan sailing for the ant-lion, as there are some species of insects that can outwit the trap and actually kill the lion. (but that’s for another article)
The ant-lion is the juvenile lava stage the adult is related to the Lacewing
This is a case where you have to ask how this specific technique for capturing prey came into being…
Now a lot of creatures dig a hole for hiding or sleeping in, but what came first in this case, the home or the trap?
And how did the ant-lion learn to throw sand at it prey? Is there a possiblity that one had a cold one day and sneezed?
You chances of actually seeing the ant lion in the UK are very small. They are very rare indeed with only a single colony in the UK.