Bug Tip of the Week 

Making a Pet of an Ant Lion 


First off, don't be intimidated by the guy in the picture above. This is Not a life size image! Like they say on cereal boxes, it's just been enlarged so you can see the texture! In reality, Antlions on average are about the size of a pea.


Okay, let's get started!


1) Preparing your Antlions home.


     This can be done in most any type of container, it doesn't need to be anything fancy. Anything from a small aquarium or fish bowl, down to a one quart cottage cheese or yogurt tub. It just needs to be at least four or five inches wide, and four or five inches deep.


     Once you've got the container, all you need to do is fill it with two to three inches of fine, sandy, dry dirt. Sand box sand is perfect! What you don't want is dirt that is wet or sticky, this would make it really hard for your Antlion to build a good trap. A few pebbles and sticks are okay, but not too many. The picture below shows how simple it can be.

 2) Finding your Antlion!


     First you have to know where to look, and the good news here is that Antlions live all over the world, you just have to know what they like in order to know where to search! So, what is it that Antlions like?


      - Antlions like it warm

      - Antlions like it dry

      - Antlions like it sandy


     So where do I search? I live in town, and I've tried around my house, but I've never had any luck here. What I do is go to an open space. It's not really a park, it's more of an area where everybody agreed not to build houses and just leave it natural. There are wild bushes, shrubs, grasses, rock outcroppings, and a few different types of trees, (junipers, cedars, ponderosas). I look in places that face the south, these are usually dryer and warmer. I also look close to the bases of trees, rocks and bushes. I look for areas where the dirt and sand are not covered up with leaves and grass and pine needles. Take a look at the next picture and it will give you the general idea.

 3) Catching your Antlion!


     Things you'll want to take with you.


      - A spoon or a small garden shovel

      - A small container to carry your Antlion home in


     Once you find an Antlion hole, take your spoon or garden shovel and carefully scoop out the bottom of the pit. Pour the shovel out on a flat, clean surface, and then carefully search through the dirt! You have to be really careful because sometimes the Antlions are really little, and they almost always look a lot like the dirt. This makes it easy to miss them.


     When you find him, take him home in your container and put him in his prepared habitat!


 4) Feeding your Antlion!


     Once your Antlion is safely in his new home, it may take several hours for him to build his new pit. For me, I usually wake up in the morning and find that he has built it over night. Now he is ready for dinner! Be sure and pick an ant that is the right size. If the ant is too big he'll be able to crawl out of the pit.


     Feeding Method One:


     Drop the ant into the aquarium and try to be patient as you wait for him to fall into the pit.


     Feeding Method Two:


     Drop the ant right into the pit! (This is the true meaning of immediate gratification!)


Well, that's it for now! If you have any questions just go to Bug Me and send me a note! I'll be glad to write back!


Happy Hunting!