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Where do Antlions Live?


antlion larva pits

Figure 1. Cluster of pits made by pit-digging antlion larvae. Photo taken in Indiana (USA).

© 2001 Mark Swanson
Antlions can be found in sheltered, sandy areas such as wooded dunes, open forest floors, and dry, tree-lined river banks. They can also be found in the sandy soil of flower beds, under hedges or eaves, in undeveloped city lots, and under buildings set on piers. Antlions have even adapted to the ancient volcanic habitat of Crater Lake in Oregon (USA). Pit-digging antlions are easiest to find because of their distinctive, cone-shaped pits, which often occur in clusters (Figure 1).

Antlions are typically most active during late spring and summer, although they may remain active during winter in warmer climates. Antlions have been observed in Yosemite National Park (USA) even during January, when temperatures dip below 0° C (32° F).


The approximately 2,000 species of antlions are distributed throughout the world, primarily in the warmer regions (Grzimek 1979, 227). In North America, the greatest number of genera and species are found in the southwestern states of the U.S. (Arnett 1985, 260). One of the most common North American species is Myrmeleon obsoletus. The main European species are Myrmeleon formicarius and Euroleon nostras (Grzimek 1979, 224).

Zoogeographic Locator

Zoogeography is the study of the relationship between specific animal species and the regions in which they live. There are eight different zoogeographic regions in the world. Click any region in the "Zoogeographic Locator" below (Figure 2) for information about the antlions that live there.

zoogeographic map

Australasian region Oriental region Eastern Palearctic region Middle Eastern region Western Palearctic region Afrotropical region Neotropical region Nearctic region




W. Palearctic

E. Palearctic

Middle Eastern



Figure 2. Zoogeographic Regions. Note: Regional names and boundaries vary in the scientific literature; this map is a composite representation.


Arnett, Jr., Ross H. 1985. American Insects: A handbook of the insects of America north of Mexico. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Co.

Grzimek, Bernard. 1979. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Co.

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