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Georgia Journal of Science

Article Title

BIOTIC AND ABIOTIC FACTORS INFLUENCING ANTLION PIT PLACEMENT **

Abstract

Antlions (Order Neuroptera: Family Myrmeleontidae) are found in Georgia and in other temperate and tropical regions throughout the world. Antlions spend more than 95% of their lifespan as predatory larva. Antlion larvae are ambush predators that build pits in the sand; their main food source is ants and other small prey that fall into their pits. Antlions are also known to eat other antlions that fall in their pits. In the wild, antlion pits can be found in sandy habitats that are covered and protected, such as under bridges. The distribution of antlion pits in the wild appears to be random. Antlions do move from time to time and construct new pits. The main goal of the project is to determine which biotic and abiotic factors influence pit size and location in a habitat. In the laboratory and in the field, abiotic factors such as soil moisture, soil temperature, and sand grain size and biotic factors such as antlion presence or the presence of a larger antlions were investigated. In the laboratory, first, three small and three large antlion larvae (Myrmeleon immaculatus) were placed into a chamber containing fine sand. In experiment two, three small and three large antlion larvae were placed in a large chamber containing fine sand (50% of the area) and course sand (50% of the area). In experiment 3, three small and three largae antlion wer placed ina large chamber containing fine sand with no mositure added (50% of the area) and fine sand with 10% mosture added (50% of the area). Each experiment had 3 replicates using different antlions. Based on laboratory studies, the presence of other, larger antlions did not seem to impact the antlion’s distribution. However, sand grain size and soil moisture level did impact antlion distribution. Preliminary field results appear to support the laboratory data. Abiotic factors play a greater role in pit placement and construction than biotic factors.

Acknowledgements

GGC Dept. of Biology

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