Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Identity of bug?

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Question
I live in Western PA. For several years I have noticed cone shaped holes by a foundation wall. Also under a large pine tree. In both areas the soil is very soft. I have seen a bug or insect in or around them. At the bottom of the hole, there appears to be a hole about an eighth of an inch in diameter that continues straight down. Depth of that hole is unknown. The cone shaped hole is approximately three quarters of an inch in diameter at the top and gets to one eighth at the bottom. Do you have any idea as to what bug or insect causes this? By the house wall there are maybe 15 to 20, and under the pine tree about the same.

Answer
Mike:

You are describing the pit traps of antlion larvae, family Myrmeleontidae, also known as "doodlebugs."  It is only members of the genus Myrmeleon in North America that dig those funnel-shaped pits.  Here's more:

http://bugguide.net/node/view/71449

I also plan to do a blog post on these eventually (http://bugeric.blogspot.com).

Thanks for sharing your observations.  I remember seeing pictures of antlions in books when I was growing up, and I expected the pits to be about the size of a saucer at their broadest point.  Ha!  There was no indication of size in those illustrations.

Eric

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Eric R. Eaton

Expertise

I answer insect and spider identification questions ONLY. Attach images if possible. No "what bit me?", "what do I feed this bug in captivity?", or science fair project questions please. NO TECHNICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT INSECT PHYSIOLOGY.

Experience

Principal author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. Professional entomologist employed previously at University of Massachusetts, Chase Studio, Inc., and Cincinnati Zoo; contract work for West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Smithsonian Institution, and Portland (Oregon) State University.

Publications
Author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Missouri Conservationist magazine, Ranger Rick, Birds & Blooms, Timeline (journal of the Ohio Historical Society). I have contributed to several books as well.

Education/Credentials
Oregon State University, undergraduate major in entomology, did not receive degree.

Awards and Honors
One of the top 50 experts in all categories for AllExperts.com, 2009.

Past/Present Clients
Principal author of the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Smithsonian Institution (contract), Cincinnati Zoo (employer), Portland State University (contract), Chase Studio, Inc (employer), Arkansas Museum of Discovery (guest speaker). Currently seeking speaking engagements, leadership roles at nature festivals, workshops, and ecotours.

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