Saturday, August 15, 2020

My New Velvet Ants!

Whilst out looking for Tenebrionids today, guess what I found? Two female velvet ants! 😁 Haven't seen these things in years, found a multitude of different species an hour or two north of me back in 2014, but I had no idea any occurred in my town!

Despite the common name, velvet ants are not ants, but solitary wasps. Females lack wings and can live a year or two in captivity, while males have wings but have a shorter lifespan.
Velvet ants are parasites of other insects, usually ground dwelling wasps and bees or grasshopper eggs. They seek out the burrows/eggs of their hosts, lay their own eggs there, and then their larvae hatch out and proceed to eat their hosts. Found these two in a field where lots of grasshoppers and other types of solitary wasps and bees live, so it makes sense they'd be down here.

I've decided to keep them for the time being, right now I have them in a temporary setup with some sand as the substrate, with a small piece of cardboard to hide under and fresh apple to feed on. I'm thinking of making a larger enclosure for them, also stocked with excess male Eleodes I rear up, since people usually keep velvet ants and darklings communally, could make for a fun "display" enclosure, (I say display, but they'll still be in a plastic food container, just a larger one... 😂).

I'm not 100% sure which species these are, but I'm guessing they're Dasymutilla coccineohirta, considering that species has been found nearby, and looks very similar to these. Here are some pictures of one of the gals:

Hopefully they'll do well for me, I have no idea how long these two will live, since they're wild caught, and may be quite old already. I guess we will find out, they'll definitely be fun captives for sure! 😁

Well, that's gonna do it for this post, thanks for reading, hope you all enjoyed, stay safe, and I'll see you next time! 😉

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