The hunt of the antlion at the full moon

antlion_198x198The antlion is the larva of the myrmeleon, which belongs to the net-winged insects. This insect grows to be 0.6 inches and predominantly stands out because of its large jaw pincers, which let you anticipate its predatory disposition. The antlion is famous for its sophisticated method catching prey. It digs funnels in the sand that function like a trap for other insects (i.e., ants or spiders). When prey steps on the edge of the funnel, the antlion begins to throw sand on the animal from the bottom of the funnel. The thereby created movements, activate the slipping of the funnel walls and transport the prey directly into the fangs of the antlion, who then kills them with its poison.

Scientists have identified that the antlion digs his funnels larger at the full moon than in other phases of the lunar cycle. This is perhaps caused by insects being more active in the moonlight. Larger funnels increase the probability of the hunting success.

sand_198x198It shows that the full moon influences the behavior of animals. We have already written about this phenomenon occurring with coralslions, and sharks. However, with all of these examples, the influence of the Moon is only based on the fact that the full moon light brightens the night and hence, alters the conditions for the animals.

For us humans, this aspect plays an insignificant role, because we are used to living in an artificially illuminated world. Therefore we are – unlike animals – fascinated and magically attracted by the moonlight. In the moonlight we are in a different world.

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  • As a little girl I would get my red wagon and go on a search for these bugs. A little stick was my dig tool and very carefully I would dig in and get very excited when I found the one in the upside down valcano. I have never known the name and I am so happy to now know :)

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