Animal Species:Velvet ants

Velvet ants get their name from the wingless female that resembles a hairy or velvety ant.

Standard Common Name

Velvet ants

Size range

1.2 cm

Distribution

Velvet ants are found throughout Australia.

Habitat

Velvet ants live in urban areas, forests and woodlands, heath, and wetland areas.

Other behaviours and adaptations

Velvet ants scuttle around on the ground looking for the nests of wasps and bees. Finding a suitable nest, the velvet ant chews her way into it. There she usually lays a single egg on the pupa of the host wasp. She then sneaks back out of the nest, sometimes sealing up her entrance holes with mud. Inside the nest the velvet ant egg hatches quickly and the larva that emerges eats the developing larva or pupa and then spins its own cocoon. It stays in this disguise until it emerges as an adult.

Danger to humans and first aid

Female velvet ants are capable of delivering a painful sting if disturbed. An ice pack will relieve the pain. People with allergies to bee and wasp stings may suffer a severe reaction to velvet ant venom and should seek medical attention.

Classification

Family:
Mutillidae
Superfamily:
Vespoidea
Suborder:
Apocrita
Order:
Hymenoptera
Class:
Insecta
Subphylum:
Uniramia
Phylum:
Arthopoda
Kingdom:
Animalia

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Tags ants, wasps, insects, arthropods, invertebrates, identification, wildlife of sydney, bites, stinging,