The effect of sand depth, feeding regime, density, and body mass on the foraging behaviour of a pit-building antlion

Inon Scharf, Boaz Golan, Ofer Ovadia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


1. Pit-building antlions are small sit-and-wait arthropod predators, which dig conical pits in sandy soils. We studied how biotic (conspecific density and feeding regime) and abiotic (sand depth) factors affect pit diameter and depth, while taking into account the larval body mass. 2. Pit diameter increased with larval body mass at a decelerating rate. In addition, larger larvae tended to relocate less frequently than smaller ones. 3. Sand depth positively affected overall pit size, while increasing conspecific density had a weaker but negative effect on pit size. 4. Feeding the antlions resulted in an increase in pit diameter compared with an unfed control group. However, as prey size increased this positive effect diminished. This result suggests that the existence of prey provides information about the quality of the microhabitat, triggering pit extension. However, similarly to the reduction in the foraging effort of saturated predators, antlions provided with large prey invested only little effort in pit enlargement. 5. Antlions were previously shown to be sensitive to prey and conspecific vibrations in the sand. We thus expected the feeding regime of the neighbour to affect antlion behaviour - surrogate of discriminating between local and global shortage of prey. Nevertheless, antlions with fed neighbours (a local prey shortage) did not show different behaviour compared with a control group in which both antlions were unfed (a global prey shortage).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-33
Number of pages8
JournalEcological Entomology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2009


  • Body mass
  • Foraging mode
  • Myrmeleontidae
  • Sit-and-wait predators

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Insect Science


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