Magnified 13X, this digitally-colorized scanning electron microscopic (SEM) image depicts the entire ventral surface of the larval staged antlion, sometimes referred to as a doodlebug, because of the trails it leaves in the soft sand, as they hunt for prey.
These arthropods undergo dramatic morphologic changes when they metamorphose into flying antlion lacewings. Note the large mandibles to the right, which are used to apprehend prey that falls into the conical sand trap constructed by this carnivorous larva. You’ll also note the presence of numerous hairs covering virtually the entire exoskeletal surface. Referred to as setae, these hairs are composed of chitin, as is the exoskeleton itself, and provide the insect larva with environmental data, including temperature, tactile stimuli and chemical changes.