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Antlion Monster

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The Antlion Monster is usually found in the Shifting Sand Land waiting for its prey at the bottom of a pit, with only its mouthparts visible until it emerges for battle.

The inspiration for most of these is the larva of the antlion, which digs out a hole and waits for food to come tumbling down. (It's not an ant, by the way: it's so named because it preys on ants.)

Do not confuse with the mythical Myrmecoleon: as a result of a translation error, it's the offspring of a lion and an ant that's doomed to starve as one parent eats meat and the other eats plants.

See also Sand Worm and Pit Trap, which this can be considered a combination of.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • Dororo (2019): In one episode, an antlion larva eats Hyakkimaru's leg.

    Comic Books 

  • Eight Legged Freaks: One subset of the Giant Spider horde includes a small group of trapdoor spiders, who snatch people into their burrows when the whole town is under attack. One guy manages to get past them by throwing a ladder on top of the trapdoor in front of him and walking his way across.
  • Enemy Mine: One such creature appears and uses a barbed tongue-like appendage to ensnare its prey.
  • Star Wars: The Sarlacc is a plant-like monster whose body is mostly buried underground, exposing only a beaklike mouth and a set of tentacles at the bottom of a steep pit.

  • Judgment On Janus, by Andre Norton, has Niall/Ayyar fall into a pit dug by a kalcrok (a large spider-like monster). The kalcrok skillfully fashioned the pit walls to be unclimbable, so after killing it he must crawl though its nest to find an exit.
  • The Moomins: An antlion appears in The Moomins and the Great Flood, Finn Family Moomintroll, and the 90's anime series Tanoshii Mumin Ikka. In this case the antlion is a black lion-like creature that digs Pit Traps at a beach.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Ultra Series
    • Ultraman: Antlar is a Kaiju based on the stag beetle, often used antlion-style pits to ambush Ultraman and fight dirty. However, it also had a magnetizing beam as a Breath Weapon to pull enemies towards its massive mandibles.
    • Ultraman Ace gives us Aribunta, a similar monster which is modelled after an army ant, which is similarly capable of tunneling and creating massive sand pits to swallow opponents, in addition to Acid Breath and fire-spewing claws.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The giant antlion first appeared in the 1st Edition's Monster Manual II. It acted just like an oversized version of the real thing, digging a pit and waiting for victims to fall in. Once they did so it burst out and grabbed them with its huge mandibles, crushing them until they died.
    • The same book introduces the Dust Digger, a Sarlaac-like creature that possessed similar ambush tactics, but modified with the additional ability to create mirages to lure prey.
    • The long-term creature the ankheg (present in nearly every version) could be considered to be a subversion — it physically resembles an antlion nymph, even down to having venomous (or acidic) jaws — but does not create a cone or trap its prey, instead acting as a roving underground predator.
  • Pathfinder: Dust diggers, burrowing starfish-like creatures that lie just below the surface of the ground and rapidly deflate their bodies to create sinkholes and cause prey to fall down into their mouths.
  • Rogue Trader: Sand tigers are alien predators that bury themselves in desert sand, loosening the sand with their claws to create an area of quicksand that passing creatures sink in. The tiger further draws in its prey by digging away sand from under it, eventually leaving only a pit with the creature's circular, fang-lined maw at the bottom.
  • Warhammer: The Great Maw is a vast mouth in the ground, apparently sentient and capable of giving the ogres that worship it (by throwing food down its gullet) the ability to use Gut Magic.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Traptrix T'lion/Myrmeleo is based on the antlion, which sets traps to get its prey. It uses a little girl puppet to lure victims to its trap and devours them whole.

    Video Games 
  • Astro Marine Corps has the great Lasaarc lurking in a pit at the end of Zone 2. Try to jump over it, and it will spit your bones out.
  • Awesomenauts: The Sorona map has a giant worm hiding in the bottom center. Hit the button just one jump above and the worm pops out to annihilate anything underneath.
  • Cave Story: Omega is a robot that waits for its victims (such as the player) buried in the sand to attack them by spewing numerous orbs before hiding again. After sufficient damage, it resorts to hopping around instead moving under the sand.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy IV, Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy IX feature antlions as bosses. In the former, it borders on Tragic Monster, as Edward explains it's tame right before it attacks him, and then almost breaks down crying after the group is forced to kill it. In Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, the party again encounters an antlion in the same vein as the first game.... and it's perfectly tame, just as Edward originally said. In IX, it's also fought as just a big mook in Random Encounters or as a mini-boss around desert areas.
    • Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles has a giant antlion boss in it's desert level, which is even named "Antlion". When you encounter it it surprises you by surfacing from under the sand and attacking. Half it's body remains underground, while it moves through the sand and attacks you.
  • Golden Sun. In the Lamakan desert, one can use Reveal on circles of rocks to see if they contain life-restoring oases. Sometimes they are revealed to be traps where an antlion's pincers are waiting; if it is, the party is forced to enter battle (sometimes Isaac is seen running as he is dragged backwards while the antlion Says It With Hearts). The antlion monster itself is a Big Creepy Crawly the size of a car.
  • Gradius: Gradius III's first boss is a giant antlion, though the SNES manual calls it the "Earwig Scorpion".
  • Half-Life 2: The Antlions, which pop out of the sand and attack you whenever you spend more than a fraction of a second on it.
  • Kirby: Snipper is an enemy with comically oversized antlion pincers that hides at the bottom of sandy pits.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and A Link Between Worlds have antlion-like enemies called Devalants in Hyrule's desert area and the Sand Palace Dungeon. They bury themselves and create sand vortexes that they're visibly at the center of, and they try and get you to fall into them. Some also shoot fireballs. You defeat them in the former game by attacking their heads while exposed and in the latter by using the Sand Rod to get them above ground and then attacking them.
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker features Molgera, the boss of the Wind Temple, which combines the jaws and tactics of an antlion with the body of a Sand Worm, spending most of the fight at the bottom of a sand pit waiting for Link to venture too close. Link needs to use the Hookshot from a safe distance to grab its sensitive tongue, while avoiding the smaller worms that the boss periodically spawns. Occasionally, Molgera will also erupt from the sand and fly around before dive-bombing Link, a strategy not often heard of for an Antlion Monster or a Sand Worm.
  • Mega Man Zero 1: The Sand Jaws enemies lie on the sand and will bite Zero for slow but continuous pain if he touches them. The Quicksand Mixer enemy in the same level sucks Zero into a quicksand pit and deals strong collision damage if he touches them.
  • Monster Girl Quest has the Antlion Girl, for a Cute Monster Girl variant. Luka gets trapped in her pit and has to defeat her before he reaches the bottom.
  • Monster Rancher: If you send a monster out on errantry in the desert themed area , the third hazard it needs to get past is a "Giant Antlion". If it succeeds, it manages to run up the sides of the sand pit, if it fails, it falls into it.
  • Mother 3: Several of these appear in the desert area, and one has a save frog caught in his whirlpool of sand. Defeating the antlion frees the frog, allowing him to save your game.
  • Pikmin 3: The Sandbelching Meerslug is a big-lipped worm fought in a patch of sand, and its main attack involves creating a large funnel in the sand and using it to send your Pikmin sliding into its waiting mouth.
  • Pokémon: Trapinch is an antlion-based Pokèmon that waits in its hole to capture prey, and like its Real Life counterpart, evolves into a dragonfly-like creature. Its Arena Trap ability prevents grounded enemies from escaping.
  • Ribbit King: The Lavatron planet has mouths sticking out of the ground, which the frogs can get stuck in as a hazard. Danny of Game Grumps even noted their similarity to Sarlaccs when the Grumps played it.
  • Secret of Mana has the Spider Legs in the obligatory desert region. They're usually found in sand pits, and will target whoever disturbs them with a painful Earth Slide spell before hiding in the ground again. They can nuked with magic before they even show themselves, though.
  • SimAnt: Antlions are an obstacle that force you to be more careful with the auto-pathing, since your ant has no real sense of self-preservation.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2: The first boss for the Game Gear and Sega Master System is a Robotic Antlion. To defeat it, Sonic must dodge the cannonballs that Robotnik throws at him so that they will hit the Robotic Antlion. Eventually, Robotnik flies down at Sonic and Sonic must dodge him as well so Robotnik will inadvertently deliver the final hit. This boss is harder in the Game Gear version due to the reduced amount of space on the screen.
  • Spin Master for the Neo Geo has a giant antlion lurking in a desert quicksand pit.
  • Strider (Arcade): The PC Engine version has a giant antlion as the mid-boss of the Shifting Sand Land stage.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Super Mario RPG: The desert region known as Land's End has whirlpools of sand which ant-like monsters pop out of if you get too close.
  • Terraria: Antlions make up several pre-Hardmode desert enemies — not only the larvae that burrow in the sand, but also the winged adult.
  • Ultima Online features a giant "ant lion" as a monster in the dungeon Shame, although it looks nothing like the insect larvae that inspired it.
  • Valis: Valis III has giant antlions in the TurboGrafx-16-exclusive Shifting Sand Land stage. Sitting at the bottom of pits makes them difficult to attack.
    • Wario World: Sandworm, the second boss, waits at the bottom of a quicksand cone that drags you to him. He later reappears as a Degraded Boss in Pecan Sands.
    • Yoshi's Island DS: The boss of the third world, Priscilla the Peckish, lives in a massive sand pit and eats the Shy Guys that fall into it, spits out Needlenoses at you and, if you try to jump over her, will leap up out of the sand pit and try to eat you, chewing on you for a few seconds and then spitting you out.

    Real Life 
  • Trope Maker: The antlion larva, of course. It wedges itself backward into sand, and the uses his head and mandibles to dig. Slowly it creates a funnel-shaped trap, with it at the center. And then it digs into the sand and waits. When something (usually an ant) falls into the funnel, the ant tries to get out, but the sand being fluid, begins to slide, preventing the ant from climbing it. So the ant lion tosses sand at it in order to increase the sandslide, and to bring it down to it. That's when the antlion grabs it with its large, serrated mandibles, injects poison into it that liquefies the insides (it can't actually eat in the normal sense) and then sucks the ant dry. So yeah, it deserves the title of "monster". Though it is utterly harmless to humans and it is actually quite gentle when not inside a pit.
  • The larvae of vermileonid flies (aptly named wormlions) while sporting a much more mundane appearance, employ the same hunting strategy as antlions, right down to flinging sand at trapped prey.
  • The Australian Funnel Web Spider does this, with the added refinement that its funnel-shaped pit is lined by sticky web.
  • Trapdoor Spiders employ a similar tactic to antlions. They make a burrow with a hinged lid and line the entrance with its own silk as a tripline then hide inside to ambush any insect that walks onto the silk.
  • Tiger beetle larva hunts in the same manner as trapdoor spider, only it uses its own front end as a lid and relies on sight rather than triplines.
  • Larvae of some beetles in Paussinae subfamily plug the entrance to their burrows with "terminal disc" at the end of their abdomens and catch any insect that tries to walk over it. The surface of this disc also produces secretions which attract ants and termites.


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