Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ant Lions

When I was a young boy, I was borderline obsessed with finding an ant lion. I had a worn-out insect guide with drawings instead of photographs. Pages were missing. I had taped the binding with yellowing masking tape. I even drew my own version of an ichneumon fly on the back page, next to the ruler that bordered the inside cover, presumeably to measure your finds. I had pretty much mastered the limited amount of knowledge contained in the book.

Only the ant lion managed to elude my understanding. The book had a magnified illustration of an ant lion of course, and I thought it looked awesome. Huge sabre-like mouth. No discernable eyes. Voracious killers that set traps for hapless ants. However, the text only briefly mentioned the pits that they dig. How would I ever find an ant lion of my own? I didn't know what to look for.  Remember that this is pre-internet...I trudged 10 miles on my bike to pour over all five of the public library's books on insects. No luck. I had no idea what to look for. I had no idea how big they were either.

As many youthful obsessions, my need for ant lion satisfaction probably lasted all of one week. I gave up.

Well, this is for you young Chris. The Florida scrub is pock-marked with countless ant lion pits!

Ant lion  pits underneath the shade of a shiny blueberry bush

Four ant lions in a row

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