Comparison of wormlions and their immediate habitat under man-made and natural shelters: suggesting factors making wormlions successful in cities

Michael A Bar-Ziv, Subach Aziz, Hirsch-lonescu Armin, Jonathan Belmaker, Adi Zweifler, Scharf Inon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Wormlions are fly larvae that construct pit-traps in loose soil and ambush prey that fall into their pits. They occur in high numbers in cities, below any man-made shelter providing protection from direct sunlight, such as a concrete roof with a thin layer of sand at the ground. Their natural habitat is either caves or any natural structure that provides full shade. We characterized a large urban habitat and compared it to two natural habitats, where wormlions occur in caves. Wormlions were abundant in all studied habitats. Our goals were to understand whether wormlions in the urban habitat perform better than in the natural habitats, and to suggest differences between the habitats that may contribute to their success under man-made shelters. Wormlions in the city reached larger size before pupation, and wormlion clusters there were larger. The studied urban habitat contained more concrete and perennial plants, while the natural habitats comprised of more annuals. We suggest that this concrete, covered with a thin layer of sand, leads to large areas suitable for wormlions. Furthermore, ants were more common in the urban habitat than the natural habitats, referring to their relative proportion of all arthropods collected. We suggest that these small ants provide suitable prey for wormlions, especially in the early stages of their development, when wormlions are limited by prey size. This could explain why they reach larger size prior to pupation. Pits were probably larger because they were constructed by larger individuals. In conclusion, we suggest that wormlions present an interesting case of an insect pre-adapted to urban life. © 2018 Elsevier GmbH
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-46
Number of pages38
JournalZoology
Volume130
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes

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