Research

Sand Traps

An ant slides down an antlion larva's sand trap.

Antlion larvae catch prey by digging conical pits in sand. The steep walls of the trap are near the angle of repose, the largest angle a granular material can maintain before grains slide down. When a hapless ant wanders into the trap, the antlion throws sand from the center of the pit, triggering a sandslide that carries the ant downward. The act of flinging sand also helps the antlion maintain the pit, correcting any disruptions to the pit’s steep sides caused by its flailing prey. (Image and research credit: S. Büsse et al.; via Science)

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