Velvet Ant (Mutillidae)

Velvet Ants are a family of more than 3,000 species of wasps (despite the names) whose wingless females resemble large, hairy ants. Their common name velvet ant refers to their dense pile of hair which most often is bright scarlet or orange, but may also be black, white, silver, or gold. Black and white specimens are sometimes known as panda ants due to their hair coloration resembling that of the Chinese giant panda. Their bite is told to be awfully painful.

carbonpressure  asked:

I just discovered Coyote Peterson and honestly he's done so much crazy shit that I'm expecting him to Enter the Smash Zone with a peacock mantis shrimp any day now.

The first video I ever saw of his was him getting stung by the velvet ant. Then I watched all of his videos. Once the bullet any came along I didn’t think it could get worse. But I was certainly wrong.

He already got bit by an alligator snapping turtle. Next he’s gonna go play with lions.

I do love him dearly though. I want to see him play with a good ol’ Fisher Cat.

I really don’t like the ‘kill it with fire’ attitude towards insects, snakes, etc.

I understand fears and phobias exist. I myself am quite terrified of bees, wasps, etc thanks to an early childhood incident involving 24 square feet of bees. (Well, to get more specific it’s things that are yellow and black and fly. Cuckoo wasps, velvet ants, and even tarantula hawks are oddly OK.) 

But my fear of these creatures doesn’t undermine their intrinsic value and vitally important roles as pollinators, predators, and scavengers. Hell, they fascinate me and I love learning about them and observing them through a barrier that prevents them from landing on me. 

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to keep a distance between yourself and species that frighten you but when someone doesn’t just fear or avoid but actively wishes for the extermination of creatures that are just going about their lives in the wild and filling important ecological niches it really rubs me the wrong way 

Many of you have been wondering what I have been up to lately. Well, the answer may surprise you…

I have spent the last 6 months googling the word “harlequin” followed by an animal group. Below is an example:

“Harlequin snake”

Homoroselaps lacteus “Striped Harlequin Snake”


“Harlequin snake eel”

Myrichthys colubrinus “Harlequin Snake Eel”


“Harlequin butterfly”

Taxila haquinus, known simply as a “Harlequin”

It’s a never-ending endeavor…

“Harlequin bunny”

Oryctolagus cuniculus, Domestic Rabbit, Harlequin coloration

“Harlequin bug”

Murgantia histrionica “Harlequin Cabbage Bug”

And just when you think you’ve outsmarted the google machine:

“Harlequin fly”

Chironomus riparius “Harlequin fly”

I mean, seriously???

“Harlequin ant”

Dasymutilla sicheliana “Harlequin velvet ant”

Will the madness ever cease???


//ARIES// Tasmanian Devil

//TAURUS// Aye-Aye

//GEMINI// Mata Mata

//CANCER// Narwhal 

//LEO// Glass Frog

//VIRGO// Giraffe Weevil

//LIBRA// Geoduck

//SCORPIO// Red Velvet Ant / Cow Killer

//SAGITTARIUS//  Giant Coconut Crab


//AQUARIUS// Monkfish

//PISCES// Giant Weta


Two Heads and Four Eyes????

Velvet Ant Pair (Trogaspidia suspiciosa, Mutillidae, Hymenoptera)

This is a phenomenal family of wasps. The first impression from this image is predator and prey but in fact it is the larger winged male grasping the smaller wingless female in its jaws in the mating process. The size disparity is reversed from the traditional gender difference amongst insects and spiders.

They are wasps and not ants as the name implies. The common name comes from the females resemblance to an ant (wingless) and the thick usually brightly colored pile of hair many species bear.

The male locates a female on the wing and mates. The female then enters an insect nest, typically a ground-nesting bee such as a bumblebee or wasp nest, and deposits one egg near each larva or pupa. Her young then develop as idiobiont ectoparasitoids, eventually killing their immobile larval/pupal hosts within a matter of days.

As in all Hymenoptera, only the female is capable of inflicting an extremely painful sting, said to be strong enough to kill a cow, hence the common name cow killer or cow ant is applied to some species. (HILARIOUS)

Pu'er, Yunnan, China

See more Chinese Hymenoptera on my Flickr site HERE…..


Velvet ant, Hoplomutilla sp., not an ant, but a wingless wasp, additional photos in higher resolution at

Everything's better with velvet

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It’s apparently also invertebrate-nomenclature slang for “actually being something totally different”. Onychophora, or “velvet worms”, are in a phylum of their own and are not annelids in the slightest. Velvet “ants” are actually the females of family Mutillidae, which are a wingless wasp. (Males are winged, like so.)

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From what I gather the fur serves a similar purpose as mammalian fur - a modicum of protection against bites from pissed-off ants getting a hungry wasp all up in their nest. It’s also friggin’ gorgeous (if I could verify that the blue ones I’ve found on GIS are a legit species I’d post those too.)

 Cow Killer Ant, 6”x6”, acrylic on maple panel, 2013

I never know what to expect when my mother sends me a package in the mail. I think she might be trying to kill me. All I ever know is something (usually with a mean sting) from Oklahoma will spring out of the box at me when I open it. Recently she sent me this Cow Killer or Velvet Ant which I painted here. Now this Ant is living with a friend of mine, spending her days inside flowers eating nectar and squeaking.