Ever seen an antlion? I'm not sure I have either, until today. I've been eyeing a bunch of funnels that appeared in the flower bed, fairly certain that they were traps created by some sort of insect, probably an antlion.
Today I noticed some movement in the bottom of one of the funnels (ok, I was intently watching it, so this isn't as much of a coincidence as it might sound) and called the boys over to watch. We sent some red ants into the funnels; a couple successfully escaped but then one got caught in the funnel, and was grabbed and eaten by whatever lurked at the bottom!
We ran for a bug jar and a small spade and dug up the funnel, then tilted the bug jar so that we could see the creature in the dirt. Emptying the container carefully allowed us to isolate just the bug...and here it is. An antlion indeed - the larval form of an insect in the Myrmeleontidae family. (The adults are a lacewinged flying insect.)
One pair of legs extend to the sides and propel it backward. The body is covered in hairs, which apparently help it to dig backward and also anchor it in the sand even when struggling with prey.