Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School-on-Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM Band, 8 to 9 evening class Monday to Friday
When we were kids we played the ukoy-ukoy game. It's a strange game to city bred kids. But in the province, when it is summer and the place is dry and sandy, the ukoy-ukoy - larva of the ant lion - is a odd thing we played with. It is a fishing game.
We would tie one of the fangs (mandible) with a strand of fine hair and fish out another larva in its own hole. The resident larva sensing an intruder picks a fight and doesn't let go our decoy. Then we would lift slowly both and put our catch in a jar. After comparing who got the most catch and the biggest, we simply returned them into the sand and watched them make new pits, while others would scamper leaving a doddle trail, before sinking into the sand. It's a dirty game - hands, face and knees - but how we loved the game! It's one for the book of Guinness.
An ant falls into the death trap of the antlion larva. Like in a quicksand the ant struggles only to fall back into the center of the pit. Beneath waits the assassin. It seizes the victim, paralyzes it by injecting poison from its fangs (mandibles) and drags it deeper to become its meal.
The antlion larva looks like a monster from outer space, barely resembling an insect that we typically know. It is a hairy monster, seemingly docile but aggressive when a prey falls into its pit trap. After devouring it with a pair of scythe-like mandible, it rebuilds its pit, and waits for the next victim. The abdomen is extraordinarily large in proportion to its head and thorax. One explanation to this is that the antlion larva has no anus. All the metabolic waste that is generated during the larval stage is stored and is eventually emitted as meconium near the end of its pupal stage. The larva makes a globular cocoon of sand stuck together with fine silk spun from a slender spinneret at the posterior end of the body. This hard and thick shell protects the quiescent pupa deep below its former pit. It remains there for one month, emerging into an adult fly.
The adult may be mistaken for a damsel fly or mayfly, but it is not related in any way. It is one kind of insect that the adult is a far cry in appearance from its immature form. The cocoon metamorphoses, emerging from its pupal case, and climbs to the surface. flexes its wings, then flies about in search for a mate. The adult is considerably larger than the larva; both exhibit the greatest disparity in size and structure between larva and adult of any type of insects that undergo complete metamorphosis. The adult has an extremely thin, flimsy exoskeleton, with the two pairs of wings showing prominent and intricate venation for which the insect probably got its Family name Neuroptera .