Velvet Ants

Wade

Arachnoking
Old Timer
Joined
Aug 16, 2002
Messages
2,933
In the interest of keeping the insect forum alive, here is another picture of one of my favorite local bugs, the velvet ant (Dasymutilla occidentalis. It's actually a species of solitary wasp, the females are wingless and resemble large, furry ants.

Wade
 
Last edited:

Wade

Arachnoking
Old Timer
Joined
Aug 16, 2002
Messages
2,933
I tried to change pic in the original post, but couldn't get it to work...let me try it again.
 

Botar

Arachnoprince
Old Timer
Joined
Aug 27, 2002
Messages
1,442
I've seen those around here as well. What can you tell me about them? Housing, food, temps, can they sting you, etc. That is one insect I've always been fascinated with.

Botar
 

Wade

Arachnoking
Old Timer
Joined
Aug 16, 2002
Messages
2,933
Pretty simple, really...I just wrote an article on their husbandry for the ATS forum magazine, out now I believe.

I'll go into more detail next week...I gota go, getting kicked out of the building...

=D

Wade
 

Botar

Arachnoprince
Old Timer
Joined
Aug 27, 2002
Messages
1,442
If it is in the current forum, I should have it. Can't remember where, but I'll look for it. Thanks.

Botar
 

Theraphosa

Arachnoknight
Old Timer
Joined
Nov 10, 2002
Messages
296
Hi, I was wondering can you buy bullethead ants as a pet?
 

Valael

Arachnodemon
Old Timer
Joined
Jul 19, 2002
Messages
756
They sure as hell can sting! :p


When I was younger, I fell for the desguise. There were a bunch around a lake we were fishing at (After seeing as many as I did, I wouldn't even call them solitary! :p) So I picked one up, next thing I know I was stung.


So, (Yes, I've said this before) being the kid I was, I unleashed my wrath upon the unsuspecting insect. Did you think ticks were hard to kill? These are just as hard. It's like they're little hairy tanks. Males are smaller and bald, looking even more like ants? or am I wrong?


This was back when I lived in Virigina -- Hampton/Newport News/Virginia Beach area. I miss it. Military brat here, so I've been to many places and VA has been my favorite by far.
 

Theraphosa

Arachnoknight
Old Timer
Joined
Nov 10, 2002
Messages
296
haha did they tried to jump at you? because when I was watching the discovery channel and they were talking about how bullethead ants can jump high distance. hmm.. how about leaf cutter ants.. can you buy them as a pet?
 

Botar

Arachnoprince
Old Timer
Joined
Aug 27, 2002
Messages
1,442
I think we may be confusing bullet ants and velvet ants here. I'm not sure which you guys are talking about now.

Botar
 

Theraphosa

Arachnoknight
Old Timer
Joined
Nov 10, 2002
Messages
296
Originally posted by Botar
I think we may be confusing bullet ants and velvet ants here. I'm not sure which you guys are talking about now.

Botar
I was asking if I can buy bullethead ants as a pet but I didn't get my answer.. it's cool...
 

Botar

Arachnoprince
Old Timer
Joined
Aug 27, 2002
Messages
1,442
Aren't they from South America? I doubt they'd be a legal import, but I could be wrong.

Botar
 

Wade

Arachnoking
Old Timer
Joined
Aug 16, 2002
Messages
2,933
Bullet ants would definately not be a legal import (in the US), unless you are a museum or zoo and can provide the required containtment facility to get the USDA permit.

Velvet ants are not ants at all, they're solitary wasps. The females lack wings. The females seek out the underground pupal chambers of various insects, often other species of bees and wasps, and lay an egg upon it. The velvet ant larvae devours the still living pupae and then pupates in it's chamber (parsatism is very popular lifestyle among wasps!).

As Valael mentioned, they have quite a sting...but they're not disquised, the coloration is a warning, not an invitation! They do have a very thick exoskeleton, anyone who has tried to add one to their pinned insect collection has observed this. This may be a defense against the stings of the bees and wasps that they parasatize. They are know to barge right past angry carpenter bee females to get to their brood chambers!

The females are easy to maitain in captivity. If I have to move them, I use a vial or small cup to scoop them up (luckily, they can't climb smooth surfaces). I keep them in plastic container with a couple of inches of dryish substrate and a cork slab for hiding under. The adults are nectar feeders, so I give them either sugar water or watered-down maple syrup in a dish with wadded-up paper towels to prevent drowning. I cange the food twice a week, and mist under the cork once a week. I haven't yet tried to breed them...not sure what to use as a host. I'm thinking about trying to dig out some carpenter bee chambers!

Wade
 
Top