Myrmeleon immaculatus

Common Antlion
Myrmeleon immaculatus


Head: Face is shiny, grayish to dark brown with green eyes and a yellow stripe at the back of the eye.
Antenna: Dark, including clubs at tip.
Thorax: Neck (pronotum) grayish with a pair of faint yellowish spots at each corner nearest head. Thorax grayish.
Wings: Wings net-like with black and some white veins. A row of alternating and uneven black and white dashes inset from the outer or lower wing border. The female also has a small white patch (stigma) near the wing tip; patch on the male can be smaller or absent.
Legs: Upper legs light yellowish-white, lower legs dark with some light patches.
Abdomen: The female has each abdominal segment dark gray at base, turning dark brown with a light stripe at lower border of segment. Male abdomen is dark brown with light stripe at lower border of each segment. Male abdomen is longer than the female’s, but still does not reach to wing tips.

Size: 35 to 40 mm long. Larva 8 to 12 mm long.

Flight Time: Late June and July.

Habitat: Dry sandy areas.

Food: Ants and other small insects that slide into sand pits.

Life Cycle: Mating lasts nearly two hours. After separation the female cleans up by feeding on the remaining spermatophore. Females drop eggs in bare, sandy areas. Larvae, called Doodlebugs, only walk backwards. They dig perfectly round, cone-shaped holes in the sand and bury themselves at the bottom of the pit. They feed on ants and other insects that slide into the pit. The victim is injected with a liquid that disintegrates their innards which are then sucked up through the huge, hollow jaws of the Antlion. Antlions know enough not to eat the formic acid sac in the ant’s abdomen. Larva are not fully developed until between September and November, depending on weather. The larva bury themselves in the soil and form a round silken cocoon from silk glands at the tip of the abdomen. Adults are night flyers.

Comments: Essex County – Point Pelee National Park, Lake Erie Islands, Ojibway Prairies. Kent County – Rondeau Provincial Park.
Around the Great Lakes area, Antlions are also preyed upon by Bee Flies Anthrax species that lay their eggs in the sand pits of the Doodlebug larva.

For information on synonyms, references and type specimens see next page