Though she looks like an ant, this mimic is a walking wasp with a painful sting that victims are not likely to forget.
Dasymutilla quadriguttata is a type of velvet ant. The misleading name can be confusing since this is actually a type of wasp. Males have wings and fly like typical wasps, but females lack wings and are usually seen walking around pavement, patios, sidewalks, and streets. The Latin meaning of its name roughly means "hairy mutilate four droplets". It quite accurately describes this wasp. The fine hairs have a sheen that resembles velvet fabric, but attempts to touch the female will trigger her defensive stinging response which is known to be terribly painful. This particular species of velvet ant has an orange or red head and thorax with a black or red abdomen that usually sports four spots: two large, and two smaller ones that sit closer to its 'waist'. These four spots may be orange, red, or even shades of buttery yellow. Variation exists between individuals: some may not have visible spots, and some may have four similar-sized ones. Bands of yellow hairs cross the abdomen as it tapers to a point.
Little study has been done on this particular species, but most sightings occur in drier regions and in the summer or early autumn. The bright, alarming colors on this wasp encourage everything to keep its distance.
Scientific Name: Dasymutilla quadriguttata
Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Size (Adult; Length): 13mm to 25mm (0.51in to 0.98in)
Colors: orange; black; red; yellow
Descriptors: two small dots; two large spots; four spots; dots; wasp; ant; orange head; red; walking; hairy; stinging; painful
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.
Ant, Bee, and Wasp Anatomy
Antennae: Ants and Bees both have a pair of antennae on the head that senses their surroundings.
Head: The head contains the insect's compound eyes, antennae, and mandibles.
Thorax: Contains various vital parts such as the aorta and nervous system.
Abdomen: Contains various organs including the heart, gut, venom glands, and anus.
Legs: Ants and Bees have three pairs of legs attached to the thorax (center-body section).
NOTE: Ants, Bees and Wasps are part of the Hymenoptera order because they share many similarities.