antlion

10

Insects of Southwest Colorado

In all sections of the State are bugs and beetles, varying in size from the two-inch dark-shelled cockroach to the small round ladybird decked in her bright colors.  (…) 

Butterflies, moths, and flies of many colors and varieties occur throughout the State.  (…)  Lightning bugs hover over the prairie meadows, and Colorado’s dry sunny climate and abundance of flowers find favor with more than seven hundred kinds of bees.

Colorado: A Guide to the Highest State (WPA, 1941)

Southwest Colorado is a funny mix of high desert and mountains.  With milder winters and fewer violent storms than the Front Range (east of the Rockies), it is home to an incredible variety of insects and spiders, though most of them aren’t as showy as these.

In summertime, bees and butterflies are everywhere, drawn to wildflowers and waterAnts and ant mimics, dragonflies, weevils, and sneaky little mosquitoes turn up where you least expect them.  Flies and spiders stay around even after the first frost. 

This is an entry for American Guide Week (AG Field Assignment 2: Flora and Fauna).

2

Thread-winged Lacewing (Nemoptera bipennis)

Also known as the wood fairy, the thread-winged lacewing is a species of spoonwing or antlion native to the Iberian Peninsula in Europe. Thread-winged lacewings are mainly active during the day and adults will feed on flowers. They are noted for their long hind wing prolongations which serve as in-flight stabilizers.

Phylogeny

Animalia-Arthropoda-Insecta-Neuroptera-Nemopteridae-Nemoptera-N.bipennis

Images: Tino Garcia de la Cruz and Ingeborg van Leeuwen

The antlion loves ants. It loves them so much that it digs a slippery, conical deathpit house of fun, just for them. Sweet! Ants that stray into it slip downwards; if they manage to get a foothold, the antlion flicks sand at them so they lose their grip because it’s excited. Fun! When they reach the bottom, the antlion bites hugs them with its massive jaws and injects them with paralysing venom love. Awww!

Sources: Cotinis via Bugguide

bug of the day - A beautiful antlion (Brachynemurus abdominalis) that showed up at the black light at our Moth Blitz on Nantucket Island this past week. Really should be viewed at full size to be appreciated :-).

The antlion digs a cone-shaped hole in the soil and then buries itself beneath the point of the cone with only its fearsome mandibles showing. When an unwary creature ventures too near the edge of the pit, it slips in the loose soil and falls down the slope toward the antlion. The antlion gives the poor creature a paralyzing bite and then sucks the juices out of it. If the antlion misses with its first bite or the creature manages to stop its slide down the slope, the antlion throws soil at it and knocks it back down toward its doom. Read more.

— Chris Helzer, ecologist and Eastern Nebraska Program Director for The Nature Conservancy