Consequences of the instar stage for behavior in a pit-building antlion

Yehonatan Alcalay, Erez David Barkae, Ofer Ovadia, Inon Scharf*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Pit-building antlion larvae are opportunistic predators that dig conical pits in loose soils, and prey on small arthropods that fall into their traps. We investigated different behavioral traits of second and third instar larvae selected for similar body masses, while also exploring the behavioral consistency and personalities of the third instar stage. Second instar larvae constructed smaller pits than third instar larvae. The former also responded more slowly to prey and exploited prey less efficiently. Notably, all these instar-based differences disappeared after molting into the third instar stage. In addition, third instar larvae exhibited consistent behavior in their pit size, response times to prey and to less extent in relocation distances. We detected two axes of behavior. The first axis included a correlation between pit size, response time and prey exploitation efficiency, thus reflecting investment in foraging activity. The second axis seemed to represent a trade-off between response time and relocation distance, implying that individuals that responded more slowly to prey, relocated over larger distances. These results point to coordinated behavior reflecting different levels of investment in foraging, while also emphasizing the importance of instar stage, in addition to body mass, when studying the behavior of such organisms characterized by a complex life cycle.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)105-111
Number of pages7
JournalBehavioural Processes
StatePublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research leading to this manuscript was partially funded by the People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) of the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under REA grant agreement no. [333442] to IS.


  • Behavioral profiles
  • Behavioral syndromes
  • Consistency
  • Morphology
  • Personality
  • Trap-building predators


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