Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Discovering nature

On our way to Africafe, where mommy loves to drink her Iced-Mocha, we noticed that along the road there are some holes... hmmm... we looked closely and they are shaped like a cone. We decided to take a picture of it and find out what they are about.
Well, goggling we found out that they are called Antlions. Here is a brief description of this interesting creature: "Crater-like pits made by the antlion larva in soft sand. Each funnel-like crater is approximately 2 centimeters in diameter and almost as deep. Antlions are members of a large order of unusual insects, the Neuroptera.
The antlion larva is a ferocious-appearing creature with a robust, fusiform body bearing three pairs of walking legs and a slender neck. In some species, the larva excavates a conical pit in the sand by crawling backwards in circles, at the same time flipping out sand grains with its long jaws. As it moves round and round, the pit gradually gets deeper and deeper. Eventually the crater reaches 2-4 centimeters across and almost as deep, with very steep walls.

When crawling insects, such as ants, inadvertently fall into the pit it is virtually impossible for them to climb the loose sand on the steep walls. To make matters worse, the antlion quickly flips out more sand, thus deepening the pit and causing miniature landslides along the walls which knock the struggling ant to the bottom. If the ant or other insect is large enough it may escape, but usually its struggle is hopeless when it is seized by the powerful jaws of the antlion. Antlion larvae are capable of capturing and killing a variety of insects, and can even subdue small spiders."

Then we saw a Gecko!! a quite curious lizard that has an interesting background: "The four-clawed gecko (Gehyra mutilata, also known as the stump-toed gecko, tender-skinned house gecko, sugar lizard, or Pacific gecko, or butiki) is a wide-ranging lizard that is probably native to Southeast Asia. It has made its way to several areas of the world including Sri Lanka, Indochina, and many of the U.S. Pacific Islands. The gecko is somewhat plump, with delicate skin. The skin is usually colored a soft purplish/pinkish gray with golden spots on younger specimens; these spots eventually fade with age."

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