Common Names: Doodle Bug, Antlion
Scientific Name: Order Neuroptera, family Myrmeleontidae, Myrmeleon spp.
Size: Adult--1 1/2"
Identification: Adults are nocturnal and attracted to light. They look like miniature damselflies. Long, clear wings and skinny bodies. Have antennae with knobs on the ends. Larvae look like little baby dinosaurs and dig small cone-shaped holes in sandy soil. They are fat little guys with huge jaws, and they walk backward. They camouflage themselves with sand.
Biology and Life Cycle: Females lay sticky eggs in sandy soil. Larvae hatch and a dig a cone-shaped hole with very smooth interior sides. The cones are death traps for ants and other insects. When they venture in, the doodle bug dances and causes a cave-in of the sides of the cone, grabs the bugs with its powerful jaws, and sucks 'em dry. Overwinter in a silken cocoon. One generation a year. Life cycle may require two years.
Habitat: Sandy soil.
Feeding Habits: Food includes ants and other small insects that mistakenly venture into the cones in the soil.
Economic Importance: Help control several troublesome insects, primarily ants.
Natural Control: Birds and spiders.
Organic Control: None needed.
Insight: One of the most curious of all insects. The larvae are ferocious killers, and the adults are frail and weak fliers.