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Antlion larvae localize long distant preys by a mechanism based on time difference


Pit building antlions Euroleon nostras have been submitted to artificial cues in order to delineate their faculty to localize a prey. Series of propagating pulses in sand have been created from an extended source made of 10 piezoelectric transducers equally spaced on a line and located at a large distance from the pit. The envelope of each pulse encompasses six oscillations at a carrier frequency of 1250 Hz and up to eight oscillations at 1666 Hz. In one set of experiments, the first wave front is followed by similar wave fronts and the antlions respond to the cue by throwing sand in the opposite direction of the wave front propagation direction. In another set of experiments, the first wave front is randomly spatially structured while the propagation of the wave fronts inside the envelope of the pulse are not. In that case, the antlions respond less to the cue by throwing sand, and when they do, their sand throwing is more randomly distributed in direction. The finding shows that the localization of vibration signal by antlions are based on the equivalent for hearing animals of interaural time difference in which the onset has more significance than the interaural phase difference.

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We thank Nataša Stritih Peljhan from National Institute of Biology (Slovenia) and Elise Nowbahari from the Laboratoire d’Ethologie Expérimentale et Comparée for the careful and critical reading of the manuscript, Fabrice Wiotte from the Laboratoire de physique des lasers for the realization of printed circuits.


This work was supported by the BQR 2014/2015 from the Université Sorbonne Paris Nord. VM acknowledges the support of the École doctorale Galilée - Université Sorbonne Paris Nord. This work was partially supported by the Slovenian Research Agency with the Research Programme Computationally Intensive Complex Systems (Grant no. P1-0403) and partially by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport of the Republic of Slovenia and by the European Regional Development Fund of the EU within the Project “Development of Research Infrastructure for the International Competitiveness of the Slovenian RRI Space - RI-SI-LifeWatch”.

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Contributions. Project definition DD, JP, VL, Conception and design VL, data collection VM, JP, data analysis VM, VL, JP, discussion and interpretation of data VL, VM, JP, DD, DSD, writing of first draft, VL, VM and revisions, VL, DD, JP, VM, DSD.

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Correspondence to Vincent Lorent.

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Laboratory animal care

Experiments complied with the principles of Laboratory Animal Care.

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Martinez, V., Sillam-Dussès, D., Devetak, D. et al. Antlion larvae localize long distant preys by a mechanism based on time difference. J Comp Physiol A (2023).

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