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Creature Feature: Holes in the Dust

Updated: Aug 24, 2022

by Audrey Harrison, CCNC Board President

As I walked through the barn today tending to our chickens, I stopped to admire all the beautiful holes in the dust beneath my feet. I often wonder if I’m hurting them by walking through, but day after day they remain where my footprints were, seemingly undisturbed. As I thought through the amazing life history of the creatures in occupancy, I thought you might enjoy learning about them or reminiscing on simpler days when playing with “doodle bugs” was a productive cure to boredom.

Photo by Andrew Williams

These small pits are created by the larvae of antlions, which are in the insect order Neuroptera, shared by lacewings and owlflies, another of my favorites. The larvae use these pits for feeding on unsuspecting insects traveling along. When, say an ant walks into the pit, the walls cave as it tries to escape. Meanwhile the antlion feeds on its prey. Following enough meals, the larva undergoes pupation, and then emerges as a lovely adult antlion. I have been seeing these at night over the last few weeks. Hope you’ll see some too! In the photos, I’ve linked the website from which I borrowed the images in hopes you’ll explore more photographs of these beautiful creatures.

Photo by Roger Shaw


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