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Velvet ant

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Velvet ant
Mainimagevelvetant.jpg
Scientific Classification
Subfamilies
Velvet Ant Stinger
Red velvet stinger.jpg

Velvet ants are any of the species of wasps belonging to the taxonomic family Mutillidae, which are known "cow killers." These organisms are known for their tremendously painful stings from their enormous stingers. Although these stings are extremely painful, these small insects can, in fact, not kill cows. Velvet ants are not ants at all, but are wingless wasps. Mutillidae are members of class Insecta and come in a variety of colors.

Contents

Anatomy

Red Female
Although Mutillidae are called velvet ants, they are actually a type of wasp. Their name “velvet ant” originates from the dense hair on their bodies, which can be a variety of colors including red, white, black, silver, or golden.[1]

Their extraordinarily thick exoskeleton was created tough and leather like in order to be able to invade the nests of wasps and bees. In multiple species, the male is much larger than the female, so much that he holds her while mating.

Only the female red velvet ant is able to sting, and can sting numerous times using their ovipositor[2], while the male cannot. A useful part of their structure is a stidulitrum that can create a noise to warn predators. The mesosoma is obviously noticeable on this ant. [3]The red velvet ant is the main velvet-ant class, about 3/4 inches distance end to end. They are black with patches of red-orange hair on the thorax and abdomen. [4] This species normally has dark reddish-orange hair on the thorax, but as the animal ages, the hair get lighter. [5]

Reproduction

The female wasp (ant) will search the ground for a beehive or a burrow of some sort. Once found, the female will find an egg and lay her own inside before reclosing it using saliva and sand [6]. Once hatched, the velvet ant larva will feed on the host’s larva until formed into an adult. [7]

Ecology

Black and Gray Velvet Ant (Female)

These amazing organisms are found in multiple habitats such as the United States and Europe [8]. They are mostly in the north in the woods, flowers and grassy areas. [9]They may be found walking or flying near their host's nest. [10]


Diet

Velvet ants are believed to mainly live off of flower nectar, the young of the nests they raid, bee pollen, other adult insects (flies, bees, beetles and fellow wasps [11]) and other supplements such as sugar water although scientists are not entirely sure of all of their nourishment. [12]. While kept in captivity, they are fed grapes and honey. Mutillidae have no noticed pattern for their food source that has been recorded.



Gallery

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References

  • Mutillidae Lorus J. Milne, National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders(1980)
  • velvet ant Encyclopædia Britannica Online
  • Dasymutilla magnifica Kevin Williams on 27 February, 2005

External References


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