Antlions and lacewings

Order:   Neuroptera

Family:  Chrysopidae

Species: Chrysoperla sp (Green Lacewing)

Family:  Myrmeleondidae

Species: Palpares sp (Antlion)

Family: Psychopsidae

Species: Silky Lacewing

As kids we used to say a certain rhyme when trying to entice antlion larvae to surface from their larval-pits:

Molletjie, molletjie kom tog uit,

Sout en peper en boerbeskuit

Unfortunately it loses its power in translation but I’ll roughly translate for what it’s worth:

Little mole, little mole come out,

Salt and pepper and Boer rusks

It is unbelievable to think that larvae this ugly can turn into such fragile, beautiful adults.

In my research about these critters, I learnt that green lacewing larvae are ferocious predators with sickle-shaped mandibles and that some are ‘trash carriers’. This is illustrated in the picture of the green lacewing larvae, the white fluff on its back is the remains of previously eaten insects; in this case some kind of scale insect nymph.

Lady beetles are the number one predators of scale insects, but the beetles and their larvae will prey on the chrysopid larvae that compete with its scale insect food source.

This type of predation has a special name – intraguild predation. This happens when a predator becomes prey, the killing and eating of competitors.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

“Intraguild predation, or IGP, is the killing and eating of potential competitors. This interaction represents a combination of predation and competition, because both species utilize the same prey resources and also benefit from preying upon one another. Intraguild predation is common in nature and can be asymmetrical, in which one species feeds upon the other, or symmetrical, in which both species prey upon each other. Because the dominant intraguild predator gains the dual benefits of feeding and eliminating a potential competitor, IGP interactions can have considerable effects on the structure of ecological communities.”

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One comment on “Antlions and lacewings

  1. Pingback: Molletjie « Slakkelak

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