II.A.1 Ant Lions: The Hairy Predator From Down Under

Concepts: Predator/Prey relationship, ecological niches, food chains, adaptations, and locomotion.
Skills: Observation, cooperative learning, measurement, and scientific method.
Time needed: Part One: approximately 30 minutes. Part Two: approximately 20 minutes.
Best time of year: Anytime.
Sunshine State Standards: LA.B.2.2.1, MA.B.1.2.1, MA.B.1.2.2, MA.B.2.2.1, MA.E.1.2.1, MA.E.1.2.3, SC.G.1.2.2, SC.G.1.2.5, SC.G.1.2.7, SC.G.2.2.2, SC.H.1.2.1, SC.H.1.2.2, SC.H.1.2.3, SC.H.1.2.4, SC.H.2.2.1, SC.H.3.2.1, SC.H.3.2.2.

This activity has two parts. During Part One, your students will observe ant lions and their behavior and record data. During Part Two, your class will compose and graph the data and use the results to answer a question about ant lions.

II.A.1 Part One-Collecting the Data

Each team of 2 students will need:

  • Ant Lion Data Sheet
  • Clipboard
  • Plastic spoon
  • Small mm ruler
  • Hand lens
  • Pencils

Teacher will need:

  • Soil or pocket thermometer (available from any science education catalog.)

Instructions for the teacher:
  1. Before taking your class out, locate an area with enough pits for each team to have at least one to examine. (You can mark off the area(s) with stakes and flags.)

  2. Use the question below and the information in this section's introduction to initiate an ant lion discussion with your class. Remember, the more students are allowed to discover on their own, the more involved they will be in the activity.

  3. If you were sitting in the bottom of a pit, trying to catch ants, what would you do?

  4. Review student data sheet with your class. Stress the importance of observing carefully before doing anything that might disturb the pit. Ant lions are very sensitive to any movement around their pits, so students need to watch calmly and quietly.
  5. When measuring pits and ant lion larvae, it is very important that students measure the ant lion and the pit made by that particular ant lion. If students measure a pit and then find no ant lion, they should measure a second pit and then catch and measure the ant lion. If they cannot catch the ant lion, or lose it, then students must find a third pit and ant lion to measure. The accuracy of this ant lion data is important for Part Two of this activity.

  6. Divide the class into teams of two. One student will be the recorder that records the information on the data sheets and reports to the class and the other will be the explorer that looks for the ant lions, their pits and measures them.

  7. Provide each team with necessary equipment and head on out!
IIA1-Part 1    Part 2    Student data sheets--Part 1    Class data sheet
A. Ant Lions:    II.A.1-
B. Scrub Burrowing Wolf Spiders:    II.B.1
C. Ants:     II.C.1   
D. Glossary    E. Questions for Student Evaluation