University of Kentucky Department of Entomology

Mystery Bug Answers

Mystery Picture #55

Mystery Picture #55

USDA Insect and Plant Disease
Slide Set
USDA Insect and Plant Disease
Slide Set
(Mystery Pictures)(Mystery Pictures)


Hiding like a lion at the bottom of its sandy pit, this Antlion Larva ambushs other small insects, especially ants, with its huge jaws. It is the larval form of long, winged insects.

You may have teased doodlebugs when you were a kid--trying to get them to show their fearsome jaws above the sand in the bottom of their pits. Maybe you say a little song like the following:

Doodlebug, doodlebug, stick out your horns,
And I will give you ten bushels of corn.

These curious creatures, called antlions or "doodlebugs," are commonly found in sandy, loose soil where they live inside shallow pits. An antlion digs one of these funnel-shaped pits by flipping soil up and out with its head. The antlion then waits at the bottom of the pit with only its large jaws exposed. Then, when an ant or some other small insect happens to wander into the pit, the antlion grabs it with its jaws. Antlions are actually the larval forms of large, winged insects that resemble dragonflies.

To learn more about antlion larvae and adults, check out This site has scads of info, including pictures, quicktime movies of antlion behavior, and a guide to antlions in mythology, literature, and popular culture.


The Io Moth Caterpillar can get to be very large and is found on many different kinds of trees and plants. Because of its multi-colored wings, the adult form of this insect is named after one of the moons that orbits Jupiter.

The pale green caterpillar can grow up to two and one half inches long. Watch out, because the spines on the caterpillar's back can inflict painful stings! These caterpillars are often found eating the leaves of many different kinds of plants, including corn. The (adult) moths are large too, and have colorful yellow and orange wings.

Io moths and several other kinds of very large, colorful moths are called "saturniid" moths because they are in the scientific family Saturniidae. Read about the big, fascinating saturniid moths in Entfact 008 - Saturniid Moths.

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