Antlions, also known as doodlebugs may have a cute nickname, but these little insects are anything but adorable.

These elusive bugs live in Colorado but are rarely seen. Part of the reason why is because adult antlions only live for about four weeks. During those few short weeks, adult antlions are solely focused on mating. As adults, they also blend in very well with their surroundings.

Image of antlions isolated on white background. Animal. Insect.
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Another reason why antlions aren't observed all too often is the fact that during the larva stage of their lives, they spend most of the time hidden in holes underground. Doodlebugs dig funnel-shaped holes into the dirt, where they sit and wait patiently for their prey to fall in. The pits are essentially traps, used to catch ants and other tiny insects. The pit openings are usually about the size of a quarter and have a depth of around one inch into the ground. As antlions look for places to build their traps, they leave wiggly paths in the dirt, which is how they earned the doodlebug nickname.

Funnel of Antlion
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In their adult stage, antlions look a bit like damselfies with long bodies and wings, but before that, they have a much creepier appearance.

ant lion larva
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In the larva stage, antlions have a pair of hook-like mandibles protruding from their head. Their massive hollow jaws help to dig holes in the soil and also flick sand or dirt onto their prey once captured. They also use their jaws to inject venom into insects that they catch.

During the juvenile phase of life, their skin has small spines and they have long legs. Some people even compare the looks of antlion larva to mini-monsters.

As adults, they grow four wings and switch to eating nectar and pollen.

Despite their unattractive appearance, these tiny creatures are harmless to humans. They are actually considered to be beneficial in the insect world because they consume other pests. Unlike other bugs out there, they don't cause damage to property either.

In Colorado, adult doodlebugs are typically observed around dusk or at nighttime. As adults, they are attracted to lights, especially while searching for a mate. According to researchers at CU-Boulder, antlion pits can be found in the bare dry soil beneath large ponderosa pines and Douglas-firs in the foothills.

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