Thistle Down Velvet Ant (Dasymutilla gloriosa)
Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Thistle Down Velvet Ant.
Updated: 9/23/2014; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The desert dwelling Thistle Down Velvet Ant is actually a wasp in disguise, delivering a far more painful sting than its cute, fluffly appearance implies.
Although it looks and walks like an ant, this hairy little creature is a wasp! The color of the hairs may vary from stark white to shades of yellow, but the sting is consistently painful regardless.
This particular species mimics the seeds of the creosote bush, blending in with the other debris around it to avoid predators. This means people should be careful when picking up tufts of hairs for closer examination.
Larvae of the Thistle Down Velvet Ant are parasitic like many species of wasp and they feed on the larvae of the Sand Wasp. Females will drop their eggs in the nest of the Sand Wasp and the Velvet Ant larvae will consume the Sand Wasp larvae.
Adults drink nectar. Males can be seen on flowers and they have wings. Females are wingless, but have painful stings as a defense since they cannot quickly escape from danger like males.