Velvet Ant Death

Velvet Ant Death #1, originally uploaded by Chris1051.


I came home from work today as usual, I sat on the porch and took off my boots. I slipped on my crocs and was about to step inside. I saw this bad-ass mean velvet ant trying to make its way in the house via the front door. Trying to crawl in. This thing had to be eliminated. They have a painful sting and if it was allowed to get in the house, and if Daniella saw it, she might be inclined to pick it up. So I grab the nearest thing I can find (a flip flop) and start beating it. It starts making a very weird sound. I continue to beat it for about 10 times. (its a very tough bug) I guess I injure it enough to where I can pick it up using my leatherman. I place it on the trunk of my car and the damn thing starts moving again. I run in and get my camera. The resulting set is what happened. The "ant" kept moving so I had to burn it. In the pictures you can actually see the stinger. File this under the "holy shit" file.


They are known for their extremely painful sting, the venom of which was jokingly stated to be powerful enough to kill a cow, hence the nickname "cow killers." Additionally, it has been stated cows occasionally would be stung while rolling in the sands of Florida. The resulting sting would fester, allowing the screw-worm fly to enter the wound. This would result in the death of the cow. The name hung on to the velvet ant even after the screw fly was eradicated in Florida in 1982. As with all Hymenoptera, only the females sting, and like all other wasps and bees (except honey bees), they can sting multiple times. If handled, they also have a structure called a stridulitrum on the metasoma which they use to produce a squeaking, chirping sound (more like a high pitched hum) to warn would-be predators.

The family can be recognized best in the female; they are the only wingless female wasps that have hair-lined grooves on the side of the metasoma (called "felt lines") and in which the segments of the mesosoma are all fused dorsally. Only one other vespoid family (Bradynobaenidae) has felt lines, but the females have a distinct pronotum and an elongated ant-like petiole. The earliest-known velvet ants are believed to be specimens from the Dominican Republic preserved in amber for some 25 to 40 million years.



Al said...

Nature throws up some goodies!


Nice pictures too. I think you too have discovered that the Nikon, with the 18-55 lens doesn't like to get too close does it?

Chris said...

Yes, those classes cant come too soon. Daniella's Birthday is this weekend. I will be using it a lot.

I bought another lens with the camera too :)