Lifescapes Gallery

12 / Jan / 2011
A Lion in Fly’s Clothing
Antlion, Coorg
Ganesh H. Shankar

A Lion in Fly’s Clothing

Did this miniature model of entomological royalty get its name because it’s the king of animals in its weight group? Or does the Antlion’s name owe more to its voracious predation of ants? The jury has been out for a while now, and while the debate doesn’t seem to suggest an early resolution, the rule of the Antlions in the sandpits of Coorg, makes for fascinating reading. The specimen seen above is a fully matured adult, and is differentiated from dragonflies and damselflies by its clubbed antennae that are as long as the head and thorax combined. The reputation of the Antlion, however, is mostly built at the larval stage itself. And it was this reputation that inspired the creation of the fearsome Sarlacc, the sand digging monster of Star Wars. The Antlion larva, true to all the hype, is a ferocious warrior who digs himself a corkscrew pit in the sand and awaits those foolish enough to visit the edge. Unwary visitors are mostly ants who come to the edge and slither down the unstable surface, aided in their descent by the larva firing loose rubble artillery at them. Once the poor ant is trapped, the larva uses the hollow projections in its monstrous jaws to suck out all the body fluid and then flicks the dry carcass out of the pit. The Antlion larva, however, doesn’t sit in its sandy throne forever. Post metamorphosis, it emerges from the cocoon as a fully matured insect, grows wings and flies off to find a mate so that the whole cycle of creation can be repeated again. And a new pride of Antlions can lord it over the sand pits of Coorg.

We at Orange County have loved sharing this story with you, and shall bring you one every fortnight, as part of our Responsible Tourism Initiatives to raise awareness about the nature and culture of the environments we operate in.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 12th, 2011 at 10:01 am and is filed under Insects . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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User Comments
  1. Leigh Yballe says:

    I consider something really special in this site.

  2. Ganesh H. Shankar says:

    Dear Ashok,

    You can see some of my work at
    Browsing is much easier than sharing images via an E-mail.

    – Best Regards,
    Ganesh H. Shankar

  3. Ajit K Huilgol says:

    Dear Ganesh,
    Your images continue to inspire!

  4. Jesan says:

    Excellent narration with a brilliant specimen presented…

  5. Diwakaran Nair says:

    Ahhh…what an outstanding image of the king of flies…lovely commentary as usual…the picture is so aesthetically perfect…thanx again tea orange county

  6. Ashok Ponnappa says:

    Ahhhh….one more of those gems!! Can never tire of these.
    Guys (Ganesh Shankar &Co), can u please email me ur whole collection?? Thanx.

  7. Kannan .K.V. says:

    What A Picture!!! I am running out of superlatives to describe your camera work,hence, keeping it simple. A lot of information in the article. Wish this could be disseminated to us when we are in Orange County, which we are every year anyway. Thanks, Kannan.

  8. Lalitha Kandaswamy N says:

    Dear Lifescapes/Orange County/Coorg,
    Thank you for the wonderful photo of the Antlion (congrats Ganesh!) and the very interesting write up. I do remember very vividly and fondly my stay with my family at Orange County. By pointing at these small and fantastic creatures you are widening our nature horizons. Looking forward to the next mail.

  9. putta says:

    Beautiful narration.
    I eagerly wait for this newsletter every fortnight, would love to get every week.

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