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Thistle Down Velvet Ant (Dasymutilla gloriosa)

Detailing the identifying qualities of the Thistle Down Velvet Ant, including physical features and territorial reach.

 Updated: 9/23/2014; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Thistle Down Velvet Ant  
Picture of Thistle-Down-Velvet-Ant
Picture of Thistle-Down-Velvet-Ant Picture of Thistle-Down-Velvet-AntPicture of Thistle-Down-Velvet-AntPicture of Thistle-Down-Velvet-AntPicture of Thistle-Down-Velvet-AntPicture of Thistle-Down-Velvet-Ant

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.

Picture of the Thistle Down Velvet Ant
Picture of the Thistle Down Velvet Ant

Thistle Down Velvet Ant Information

Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Common Name: Thistle Down Velvet Ant
Scientific Name: Dasymutilla gloriosa
Other Name(s): Grey Velvet Ant

Taxonomy Hierarchy

 Arrow graphic Kingdom: Animalia
  Arrow graphic Phylum: Arthropoda
   Arrow graphic Class: Insecta
    Arrow graphic Order: Hymenoptera
     Arrow graphic Family: Mutillidae
      Arrow graphic Genus: Dasymutilla
       Arrow graphic Species: gloriosa

Size, Identifying Tags and Territorial Reach

Size (Adult, Length): Size (Adult, Length): 13 mm to 16 mm (0.507 inches to 0.624 inches)
Identifying Colors: white; black; gray; yellow
Additional Descriptors: hairy, stinging, flying

North American Territorial Reach (Though Not Limited To): Arizona, California, Nevada, Texas, Utah, and parts of Mexico

A Note About Territorial Reach: Keep in mind that 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. Insects are driven by environmental factors, food supplies and mating patterns and do not nescessarily work within hard-and-fast territorial lines like we humans do.

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