Velvet Ant
 
Location: Writing on Stone Provincial Park, AB
Date: July  21,  2007
               
      Photo 1

Velvet Ant - female

Common Name:  Velvet Ant

Latin Name:  Family Mutillidae
                        (R. Bercha, det.)

Length:  6 - 20 mm

Range:  Alberta

Habitat:  Open sandy areas

Time of year seen:  Summer

Other: Velvet Ants are brightly colored hairy antlike insects.  They are a type of solitary wasp that parasitizes the larval stages of other insects, including solitary ground nesting wasps and bees.  The females are wingless and are armed with a potent sting.  The male Velvet Ant is generally larger then the female and has wings but no sting.  Adult Velvet Ants feed on pollen. The Velvet Ant's body is hardened/armored to protect it against the stings of its potential hosts.  After locating a host's nest the female Velvet Ant enters it and lays an egg on the resident larvae, pupae or cocoons.  The egg hatches a short time later and the larva consumes its host (this is known as ectoparasitism).  (Burton et al, 2002, Wikipedia University of Florida IF&AS)
 

Photo courtesy J. & D Reid 2007.
     
                    
         

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