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Norfolk nature reserve predator colony found

Posted 19 October 2011
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Norfolk nature reserve predator colony found
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Those who like to check out the local wildlife while they go walking may be interested to learn that an antlion colony has been discovered in Norfolk.

Employees of Natural England's Holkham National Nature Reserve have discovered what is believed to be one of only two colonies of the creatures anywhere in Britain.

Reports of such creatures have been made since 2005, but a survey started in 2008 has now established a full colony exists with 1,905 larval pits.

The other known colony is in Suffolk.

Manager of the Holkham reserve Michael Rooney said: "Antlions are thriving at Holkham, with a sizeable population spreading through the pine woodland. It will be interesting to see what will migrate north to Holkham next."

While the creature is similar to a dragonfly as an adult, when in larval form it burrows into the ground and leaves only its mouth above ground at the bottom of pit, in which it catches prey and sucks them dry.

The creature may have been the inspiration for the Sarlacc in the Star Wars film Return of the Jedi, which caught prey in a similar way.