Intraguild predation in an extreme arid desert: antlions and scorpions in the 'Arava rift valley

Nitzan Segev, Oded Berger-Tal, Efrat Gavish-Regev

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster


Avrona monitoring Program: 'Avrona nature reserve is located in the southern 'Arava Rift Valley, Israel. The area is in a hyper-arid desert with a low annual precipitation (15-50mm), Intense solar radiation and hot summers that can reach 48 o C. It is characterized by gravel, loess and sandy soils with sparse perennial shrubs cover. In May 2016, seventeen months after an oil spill occurred within the reserve (background picture), a long-term monitoring of arachnids was launched as part of a multidisciplinary monitoring project of the Israel Nature Protection Authorities and Israel's National Nature Assessment Program (HaMAARAG). Scorpions are assessed twice a year (May and August) during three consecutive "moonless" or "new moon" nights using ultraviolet light. Orthochirus scrobiculosus negebensis (Shulov & Amitai, 1960)-Family Buthidae-Distributed across North-Africa, Asia and the Middle East-Found in Israel on loess soil from Jericho in the north, to the Negev desert and 'Arava valley, in the south-Under stones, sometimes in burrows-Metasoma parallel to the mesosoma Predation behaviour observation Orthochirus scrobiculosus negbensis was observed actively foraging for antlion larvae by walking rapidly from one antlion pit-trap to another without stopping for more then a few seconds inside the pit. We observed two individuals, each with an antlion larva (Cueta sp.) skewered on its stinger and then move to the prdipalp while walking rapidly. Predation behaviour observation A juvenile of Buthacus leptochelys was observed ambushing inside an antlion's pit, with its pedipalp chelae inserted in the sand at the bottom of the conical pit, where the antlion was hiding under the sand. Antlions (Myrmeleontidae) are predatory insects, commonly found in the tropics and warm temperate regions. The larvae of several genera (e.g. Cueta Navas,1911) construct pitfall traps in dry sandy areas, to catch ants and other invertebrates. Eggs are laid directly into soil, and larvae have three instars and then pupate in the soil. Adults are active, weak-flying, nocturnal predators.
Original languageEnglish
StatePublished - 30 Aug 2017


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