What Antlions And ‘Star Wars’ Have In Common

Our Texas insect expert answers common questions about bugs.

By Laura RiceNovember 20, 2019 12:58 pm,

Have you ever seen an antlion? Or heard of one? Wizzie Brown, an insect specialist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office, says you probably have – antlions are also sometimes called doodle bugs.

On how people typically encounter antlions:

Most people, when they are dealing with antlions, they’re seeing the little antlion pits that are going to be in soil, or sandy, protected areas.

On how to recognize adult antlions:

The adults are going to be actually very pretty, and they’re very cool, and they’re often mistaken for damselflies. But they [are] usually grays or browns, and the adults are going to be flying around in areas with trees that are more forested, which might be why people don’t see them as often.

On what baby antlions look like:

You’re going to have this little globular body. Then you’re going to have their head that has these huge sickle-shaped mandibles. They will back down into the soil, and as they’re doing that they’ll start spinning around in circles … and they’re taking their head and using it as a shovel.

On how little antlions get food:

Once they fully bury themselves, only their mouth parts are really sticking out. And they will have their mouth parts wide open. So as ground-dwelling insects are walking across the land, looking for food or mates, they will fall into this pit.

On a preferred antlion meal:

A lot of times it’s ants because, hey, they’re antlions. [And] ants walk around on the ground.

On a surprising antlion-“Star Wars” connection:

The Pit of Carkoon in “Star Wars,” on Tatooine, outside Jabba the Hutt’s palace … is very similar to an antlion pit.


Written by Shelly Brisbin.