Velvet ants, from the family Mutillidae
Despite their name, they are not ants at all.
They are, in fact, wasps!
They earned the name velvet ants as the females lack wings, which gives them the appearance of a hairy ant.
They are also called "cow killer" or "cow ant", as they have a very powerful sting.
Velvet ants that are black and white are sometimes called "panda ants," due to the similar colouring to the bear.
Velvet ants come in a variety of colours, including orange...
These bright colours serve as a warning to predators to "stay away".
They have extremely tough exoskeletons.
Such tough exteriors helps them to retain moisture.
And gives them an advantage when invading the nests of their prey.
Male velvet ants have wings, while the females are wingless.
However, only the female is able to sting.
Velvet ants make a squeaking or chirping sound when alarmed.
Most species of velvet ant are nocturnal.
However, some female velvet ants will be active during the day.
There are over 3000 different species of Mutillidae.
They can be found all over the world, mainly in tropical climates.
They are very common in South America, with over 100 species living in Brazil.
After mating, females invade the nests of bees and wasps, and deposit their eggs next to their prey's larva.
The velvet ant larva lives as a parasite off the bee or wasp larva.
The host larva eventually dies, and the velvet ant will eventually hatch and start its own life cycle.
25 photos that show how beautiful and tough velvet ants are
Despite their name, velvet ants are not ants at all… they’re wasps! With brightly coloured hairs to deter predators, an extremely tough endoskeleton, and an incredibly powerful sting, velvet ants are a force to be reckoned with.
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