An Ant-lion visits

We have still had very little rain so far this (nominally) Wet season so the insect activity in the garden hasn’t built up in the way it usually does at this time of year. However, we’re still seeing a few butterflies (Birdwing, Ulysses, Eggfly, Migrant, etc) and getting a few visitors in the house at night, attracted to the lights.

Ant-lion
Ant-lion

Ant-lions are lacewings (Neuroptera, Myrmeleontidae) and adults are easily identified by their size (30-40mm), lethargy (they are clumsy, reluctant fliers) and antennae: nothing else has antennae quite like this.

ant-lion
Close-up of the head

There are about 250 Australian species and most of them are so similar that they are difficult to identify, at any stage of their lives. Mine may be Heoclisis fundata (photos here on ALA), which is fairly common and widespread.

The larvae are more familiar to us in one way, since their little volcano-like pits are common in loose dry soil, but less familiar in that we so rarely see the creature lurking at the bottom. As always, the Brisbane Insects site has reliable information and photos, and their first photo of the lurking predator is a beauty (I’m not sure that’s the right word).

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