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Efficiency of antlion trap design and larval behavior in capture success


Klokocovnik, Vesna; Devetak, Dušan (2021), Efficiency of antlion trap design and larval behavior in capture success, Dryad, Dataset,


Traps constructed by an animal reduce the amount of energy required to seek prey. The main risk of trap-building predators is the greater uncertainty of encountering prey, owing to their immobility. Sometimes environmental characteristics do not allow them to build efficient traps, resulting in lower capture success. We observed prey escape, capture success, and behavior of two antlion species, Cueta lineosa, a habitat specialist, and Myrmeleon hyalinus, a generalist, building geometrically different traps. The traps of C. lineosa are elaborate and deep, consisting of two inverted cones, while M. hyalinus builds simple inverted cones. Prey escape was observed from traps with antlion larvae present and from artificially constructed traps without antlions. We used a 3D printer to create a replica model of both trap types, pressing the model onto the substrate surface to create a trap. The C. lineosa artificial trap slowed prey escape more effectively than the simpler artificial trap of M. hyalinus. Prey escape time was four times longer for two ant species and three times longer for woodlice from C. lineosa traps. Escape time also decreased with increasing prey length. We also found behavioral differences between these two antlion species. The behavior of M. hyalinus is much more efficient in catching prey than that of C. lineosa. The results indicates that both species are efficient trap-building predators; however, it appears that capture success depends not only on trap design but also on larval behavior.