If I were to ask your child or grandchild if they had ever seen a doodle bug, I would not be at all surprised to get a resounding no. I don’t know when doodle bugs went out of favor but it might have been when Sesame Street started on TV. The same might be true of June Bugs. In the case of fireflies, it’s just possible that they still have a certain amount of attraction, even in this world of hi tech. After all, they are highly energy efficient, don’t promote global warming (so far as I know) and look a lot like flying LED’s.
As a child playing down in Sandy Point, one might be found sitting under the edge of the house where the sand was dry on a rainy day. There were usually some little cone shapes depressions (sand pits) in the sand in clusters made by the doodle bugs and by taking a small stick and twirling it around in the bottom of these little cones the doodle bug could be found hidden just below the surface waiting for an ant or some other unsuspecting insect to come along and get eaten by the doodle bug. Sometimes a little song was sung by the children as they twirled the stick: doodle bug, doodle bug, your house is on fire or some variation of this. I am pretty sure that the doodle bug did not enjoy the game but it was entertaining for the children for a few minutes. The children would destroy all of the doodle bugs’ cones and move on.
Doodle bugs are not pretty. They are anything but. And, I dare say, no one in Sandy Point was aware of what these creatures actually were/are. They certainly never told me that these little ugly creatures would someday sprout wings and fly! Who knew when they looked like this!?
And, we never knew that their real common name was a very ferocious sounding one: antlion! I never heard them called that. But that would have made the game even more exciting, don’t you think. “Come on, Little Billy, and let’s go catch some lions.” Now that would have evoked some excitement!
To top it off, we did not know these guys would eventually get some wings and fly. That would have really added some intrigue to the game. And, I can just hear someone saying, “You can get a new car when doodle bugs fly.”
That’s right. The antlion is actually a larvae and part of the early life of the creature. They eventually come to look like this:
These things look a lot like draonflies except that they fold their wings back and fly at night so they are seldom seen.
Now, are you ready for this? Their actual name is Myrmeleontidae! (ant lion in Greek) but you can see that would make for a much tougher song to sing while digging the little fellows up. It also seems they are not nice at all. Especially to ants and the insects that fall into their traps. They grab them with their little jaws, inject them with venom and then suck their insides out! Not quite so cute, now, huh? But, the good news is that once they get wings they live on pollen and nectar from flowers.
In a way, these little guys are like a lot of politicians. They devour any living thing that comes close and suck the life out of them. But once they have gotten to the top, they can fly off and live off the fruit of the land forever.
© JC 2016