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Effects of slope and particle size on ant locomotion: Implications for choice of substrate by antlions
BOTZ Jason T. ; LOUDON Catherine ; BARGER J. Bradley ; ...
Antlions construct conical, mechanically unstable pits in sand for prey capture. If ants (a major prey item) have difficulty walking on inclined sand surfaces, this may explain the effectiveness of their capture by this trap design. We investigated the degree to which locomotion of ants is impaired on sandy slopes. The locomotion of ants, physical characteristics of sand, steepness of antlion pit walls, and sand-size preference of antlion larvae were evaluated using four size fractions of sand (0.1-0.25, 0.25-0.50, 0.50-0.71, and 0.71-1.0 mm diameter). An ant's probability of falling when walking on a sandy slope increased with increasing slope angle or decreasing sand-particle diameter. For a given particle size and angle of inclination, larger ants were more likely to fall and roll uncontrollably than smaller ants. The maximum inclination above horizontal (angle of repose) for sand of different particle sizes was measured. The angle of repose was higher for the finest sand fraction than for the three coarser sand fractions, but did not differ among these three coarser fractions. In each sand fraction, the steepness of pits constructed by antlions was not significantly different from the angle of repose. Antlion larvae preferentially built pits in the two finer sand-size fractions.
Kansas Entomological Society
ISSN : 0022-8567 CODEN : JKESA7
Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society A. 2003, vol. 76, n° 3, pp. 426-435 [10 pages]
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