I was puzzled about all these cone- or funnel-shaped indentations in our yard; at first thinking they were inverted anthills for some odd species of ant. After observing a few of these cones, I realized no ants were living in them, but that some creature was living at the bottom, occasionally throwing sand up and out of the pit.
One day, I saw an ant in the trap and each time it tried to get out, the hidden and mysterious insect below the surface would toss sand on the side of the funnel, sending the hapless ant tumbling back to the bottom.
Eventually, the ant was grabbed by what I later learned was an ant lion and dragged below the surface. I couldn’t see what was happening to the ant in the sand, but I learned that the ant lion’s sharp jaws would rip its prey’s body open and it would suck the insides out.
Ant lions are the tiny larva stage of a winged insect that looks similar to a dragonfly and are deemed beneficial for controlling the ant population.
Nature can be beautiful, but it also can show us a strange and cruel world.
Cary Brunswick, of Oneonta, is a freelance writer and editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of The Daily Star and its editorial board.