Beware, the Pit!


Let’s see a show of hands: how many of you grown-up adult kinds of folks 1) know what this conical depression is and 2) have been entertained thereby in your oh so distant childhood past? Get’em up there and let me see.

Now: how many of your children would know? Your grand children? Is the number diminishing with each generation? My guess is YES. Shame on us.

So this is a doodlebug trap. An antlion lives at the bottom. And the ferocious creature can sometimes be fished out of its lair by “doodling” with a pine straw. You’ve done this. Right? No? It’s not too late!

In the way of a refresher course, here’s the cone-trap in cut-away view, and the Lion at the bottom (fearsome ain’t he?)

And everything you always wanted to know about Doodlebugs–including videos–is here.

Now, go ye into the world with straw of pine and doodle your way to enlightenment. Friday it is, grasshopper, and pleased I am.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. i’ve never in my nature-loving life seen one of those. I know what a doodle bug is…but not an antlion. Maybe cause I was a girl….I didn’t explore the bug world as much as boys….or maybe I just wasn’t in the right place at the right time….very facsinating and thank for all the great nature clues and observations!

  2. I spent many hours as a kid on hands and knees in the car shed trying to catch doodlebugs. With our world of concrete and asphalt, it’s getting harder to find them, but I have managed to introduce our six year old to the ‘sport’.

  3. We used to catch ’em with the a piece of straw off of a broom. Of course all we ever did when we got one was look at it and say “Eeuuuww!”