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Ant-lion Euroleon nostras

Ant-lions, Lacewings and Alderflies are related to eachother. You can tell so by looking at their heads and the large wings. The larvae of almost all species are hunters. The order is named after the numerous veins in the wings, which make out an intricating pattern. The Snake Flies used to be part of this order too, but are now considered to be an order by themselves. And even though we do deal with the Alder Flies here, they are often considered to be an order of their own as well. That order is called the Megaloptera and is comprised of Alder Flies and the Northern American Dobson Flies and Fishflies.

The adults of the ant-lion resemble a small damsel-fly a bit. But if they fly you see the difference instantly. They can be considered really poor flyers. Ant-lions are very interesting insects. They got their name from the behaviour of the larvae, rather than that of the adult. The larvae make a little, round ditch, preferably in loose sand. In the bottom of the ditch the animal digs a small passage-way. It hides itself in the passage-way and then waits for what is about to happen. Ants are very curious insects, so the ditch will certainly attract their attention. However investigating this ditch proofs fatal for a curious ant. The sand is too loose, the ant slids down and can't get out of the ditch any more. The ant-lion crawls out of the passage-way and eats the ant.

The Ant-lion in the picture lived for a short time only. After I made a very few shots of the animal sitting on clothes-line it decided it had enough of posing and flew away laboriously. It flew towards a nearby oak, so I followed it with my eyes to see where it would land. Suddenly a Black Cap - a small warbler that inhabits our garden every summer - appeared and ate my model. That is why I have only one picture of the ant-lion and I'm sorry it is not a very exciting one. The species in the picture is very rare in Britain and is only found in the Minsmere and Suffolk (along the coast) and probably in Norfolk. On the continent this is a common species. Ant-lions are common in Northern America as well. The larvae are usually referred to as doodlebugs in the USA and Canada.