Velvet Ant

Dasymutilla sicheliana

Velvet ant with fake decoy head, Dasymutilla sicheliana, Arizona photo © by Mike Plagens

The true head is at upper left. Seven Springs area, Maricopa Co., Arizona. 19 July 2015.

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There are many fascinating velvet ant species in Arizona's sycamore woodlands and desert areas. The females of this wasp are wingless partly to make it easier for them to enter tunnels in the soil. Their frenetic running is part of their program to hunt ground nesting bees or wasps. Each velvet ant species has a particular host it is looking for. Observing this species I found that the pattern made it difficult to tell whether it was walking forward or backward. When it exits a tunnel in the soil after investigating, it does so by walking in reverse, but the fake head pattern makes it appear to be crawling in a forward direction and then inexplicably reverse direction! Velvet ants are well known for possessing a powerful sting. How severe is the sting of this species?

Mutilidae -- Velvet Ant Family

Other Velvet Ant Species:

Thistle-Down Velvet-Ant  Velvet Ant Wasp

More Information:

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Arizona Naturalist
Sycamore Canyons
Invertebrates in Arizona's Sycamore Canyons
Sycamore Woodland Flora


Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 23 July 2015