ant lion

variants: or antlion \ ˈant-​ˌlī-​ən How to pronounce antlion (audio) \
plural ant lions or antlions

Definition of ant lion

: any of various neuropterous insects (as of the genus Myrmeleon) having long-jawed larvae that feed on insects (such as ants) and including some that dig conical pits to capture prey

Illustration of ant lion

Illustration of ant lion

ant lion: 1 larva, 2 adult

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How Would You Describe a Ant Lion?

An insect known for its aggressive capture of prey during its larval stage is the ant lion. The larva digs a funnel-shaped sandy pit by using its oval, bristled abdomen, then buries itself in the pit with only its powerful jaws uncovered. Any small insect that ventures over the pit’s edge slips to the bottom and is seized by the ant lion, which sucks the contents of its victim and throws out the empty skin. The adult ant lion does not feed. The best known of the 65 described species occurs in North America and Europe.

Examples of ant lion in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The brave Lasiochalcidia wasps of Europe and Africa throw themselves into the nightmarish jaws of an ant lion, pry them apart and insert their eggs into its throat. Christie Wilcox, Scientific American, "How a Wasp Turns Cockroaches into Zombies," 1 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ant lion.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of ant lion

1742, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for ant lion

Time Traveler

The first known use of ant lion was in 1742

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Cite this Entry

“Ant lion.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for ant lion

ant lion


Kids Definition of ant lion

: an insect having a larva form with long jaws that digs a cone-shaped hole in which it waits for prey (as ants)

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