Understanding These Not-So-Harmful Antlions (2023)

What Are Antlions?

The antlions are a group of more than two-thousand species of the Myrmeleontid family. The family is known for its predatory habits, especially with larvae. This is because the majority of these species dig up the puts for trapping the ants and prey. Adult antlions are hard to find because they don’t live much (yes, their lifespans are shorter than larvae). The adult antlions fly after dark and at dusk and are widely confused with damselflies and dragonflies.

The antlions are also known as antlion lacewings. In addition, their larvae are known as doodlebugs in North America because they leave behind weird marks in the sand. They are seen all around the world, and most of them are found in tropical regions. However, some of their species are also available in cold areas. They are mostly found in sandy, dry habitats for pit-making by larvae.

Antlion

Antlion’s Appearance and Behavior

On the other hand, some antlions also reside under the debris and among the leaf litter. As far as appearance is concerned, antlions can be small and large since their wing size ranges from 2cm to 15cm. However, the African species are the bigger ones since they have a wingspan of 11cm. The adult antlions have two pairs of narrow, long, transparent, and multi-veined wings along with a slender and long abdomen.

Even if they look like damselflies and dragonflies, they are from a different class of winged insects. They can be differentiated from the damselflies given the clubbed and highly prominent antennae (the antennae are more enormous/longer since the thorax and head are combined). As for the wings, the venation pattern is different. The adult antlions are feeble when it comes down to flying and are known to flutter around at night looking for mates.

The adult antlions are extremely nocturnal, which is why you won’t see them at night. As far as the male antlions are concerned, they have a unique structure, and the abdomen will be longer than the females. Even more, they tend to have an extra lobe. The female antlions have finger-like extensions and bristles to help them dig pits. Now, let’s talk about the larva!

Antlion Larva Characteristics and Biology

The larva is known to have a fusiform and robust body which means the abdomen will be plump. In addition, the larva’s thorax also has three walking leg pairs. Moreover, their prothorax also has a slender neck along with a flattened and square head which has various hollow and sharp projections. Their jaws are made from mandibles and maxillae, while the latter is for the enclosed canal, which allows them to inject venom into the victim. The antlion larvae don’t have an anus, and their metabolic waste is generated during the storage of the larval stage.

Why Do Antlions Cluster Up In Your Home?

These antlions are known for their prey-trapping patterns, which is why they are considered different from other species of insects. They have a habit of digging up round and small pits that can capture the smaller insects, which can be consumed and subdued. In the majority of cases, they tend to choose the sandy soil in a saved-up and sheltered area that is away from different disturbances, including rain, to construct the pits.

The availability of sand makes it easy for them to dig pits. They are highly likely to construct the pits through grain flicking from the pit’s sand. When they dig, they move in backward circles and keep up with the pit development until the pit is 2 inches in diameter. When the pit is ready, these insects will bury themselves at the bottom of this escape and wait for the prey. Given these patterns, they are less likely to cluster up in the home, but they are common yards and lawns if there is sand around.

Antlions can live without eating for too long, which means they will have the patience to wait for their prey. However, when an insect comes around their pit, the antlion will get into action and eat them. To begin with, they click the sand at their prey for knocking it down, and the collapsing design of the pit results in the fall of prey into the pit’s bottom. Then, they use their pincers to inject venom into the pretty, killing them and sucking the corpse.

Antlion’s Impact on Humans and their Relationship with them

If you are worried about them harming you if they are on your lawn, you don’t need to worry much. This is because they don’t pose much harm to living beings, irrespective of the sharp killing patterns and dangerous appearance. Similarly, they won’t bite humans and won’t transmit the illness either. As far as the digging design is concerned, it is harmless and cannot dig enough to create disastrous impacts. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that antlions have a promising relationship with humans.

This is because they can kill some ants and insects that are harmful to humans. However, they don’t consume many ants to colossally impact the nearby ant populations. All in all, they are attracted to places that have sand, so if you have sand under your house’s eaves, the antlions will be attracted.

How To Get Rid Of Antlions?

Truth be told, there is no need to kill antlions because they aren’t known to harm humans or structures. For this reason, you don’t need to use pesticides. However, if their presence frustrates you, you can simply mix up gravel with the sandy areas to resist their pit development. As a result, they will move to another area where there is clear sand as it improves their ability to dig up the pits. However, in the section below, we are sharing some tips to follow;

  • First of all, you have to take a look around your yard because antlions tend to live around the sheltered area. In addition, they can be seen in the dry and sunny areas of the yard, especially the areas that provide shelter. Not to forget, you should look for the pits at full moon because they are
    programmed to breed on such nights
  • Once you have found their home, make sure that you are properly identifying the insects. It is suggested to look for the six legs and the insects that are 1-inches to 2-inches in length. To be sure, you can simply pick one bug up and put it on the ball; if it rolls up, it’s the antlion
  • Now that you are sure that the insects are antlions, you can opt for Sevin as it is a chemical-based pesticide and just follow the instructions on the pack. In addition to this, you can also lay down the baiting traps. On the other hand, if you are looking for a non-chemical option, you can create a dark environment and pour boiling water over them (this will make them curl up and die). In case you don’t want to use boiling water, you can use crushed eggshells and scatter them around

Where Do Antlions Come From?

These antlions are native to America, particularly in the United States. In addition, they are commonly found in Wisconsin, especially around the farmlands, sandy jungles, and beaches. Not to forget, you will find around one hundred species of antlion in North America.

Will Antlions Sting Or Bite Me?

The antlions will not sting or bite. However, they can bite when they are stressed and feel threatened. So, as long as you don’t attack them, they won’t bite you.

How Bad Is The Sting Of  Antlions?

If you have been bitten by the antlion, the poison will create a sharp burning sensation which can last for over a few minutes after shaking off the antlion. However, it’s only a matter of a few minutes because they don’t have any long-term impacts.

Are Antlions Destructive?

No, they are not destructive at all. This is because they don’t damage the structures or flowers. They can be beneficial at times since they feed on harmful insects and dangerous ants.

Do Antlions Get Attracted To Water?

Usually, they don’t get attracted to water. That’s to say because they consume water from the food and can wait for a long time to get food and water.

How To Get Rid Of Antlions Bites?

Since the bite’s effects last for a short time, we don’t think you need to do anything. Clean the area with water and apply a soothing lotion to alleviate the burning sensation.

Why Are Antlions Bad?

The antlions are not bad, irrespective of how they look. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that they are only bad for their prey as they don’t pose any harm to the plants and infrastructure. Not to forget, even if they bite humans, they don’t transmit any bad diseases.