This Velvet Ant, along with others, were observed clambering around on the stems and leaves of Common Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) during a bug survey on the Rock Creek Confluence property. According to “Bug Eric” (Eric Eaton), “They find the sweet sticky secretions of the plant to their liking.” Velvet Ants, named for their hairy ant-like bodies, are actually more closely related to many wasps than ants. The females are wingless and the males are winged…and the females have a reputation for a very painful sting. Although cute and seemingly pettable, it’s best to look and not touch. As a group, velvet ant larvae are external parasites of the larvae and pupae of various insects, with this species targeting sand wasps in the genera Bembix and Microbembex.
Size: 7 mm – 14 mm
Photo by: Glenn Marangelo on 9/10/22 near Clinton, MT