Eur. J. Entomol. 105 (4): 631-635, 2008 | 10.14411/eje.2008.085

Substrate particle size-preference of wormlion Vermileo vermileo (Diptera: Vermileonidae) larvae and their interaction with antlions

Dušan DEVETAK
Department of Biology, Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, University of Maribor, Koroška cesta 160, 2000 Maribor,

Wormlion larvae are found in substrates consisting of fine sand or powder, implying that they may be able to distinguish between different substrates according to particle size. To estimate the effects of particle size on wormlions, the pit-building decision of the larvae of the wormlion Vermileo vermileo was observed in four substrates consisting of different sand fractions. Wormlion larvae prefer the finest sand fraction with particle size <= 230 µm. When wormlions (Vermileo vermileo) and antlions (Euroleon nostras) are placed in the same container with two different substrates, interspecific predation does not occur. In two-substrate choice tests larvae of the two species show opposite preferences for two substrates offered. While wormlion larvae readily build pits in the finest sand fraction (<= 230 µm), antlion larvae prefer coarser sand (with particle size 230-540 µm). Wormlion preference for the finest sands and powders, and antlion preference for sands of medium particle size was confirmed by field observations. Sand particle size affects the spatial distribution of sand-dwelling insect larvae and thus may reduce conflicts between heterospecifics.

Keywords: Wormlion, antlion, Vermileo, Euroleon, substrate particle size, sand, powder

Received: January 31, 2008; Accepted: February 29, 2008; Published: October 24, 2008

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