Memories of the Sausage Fly

William Boyd

The ant-lion builds its traps in sandy soil. It fashions – somehow – a geometrically perfect inverted cone. At the tip of the cone the ant-lion lurks, buried and invisible, waiting for any small insect to tumble in. When this occurs, the ant-lion at first makes no move. The walls of the cone are so smooth, the sand-grains they are composed of so fine, that only the largest insects can gain any purchase. As the smaller victims slither and scrabble on the steep sides of the cone, the ant-lion spits – or flicks – more sand at them, causing them to tumble down into the cone-tip where they are dragged beneath the sand and devoured.

The full text of this memoir is only available to subscribers of the London Review of Books.

You are not logged in