Sacken's Velvet Ant, Dasymutilla sackenii
This is a common species of velvet ant, often seen scurrying along dirt trails in the River Park in the warm, dry months. The female is wingless and searches for the nests of ground-nesting bees and wasps to invade and lay eggs in. Male velvet ants look just like the females, but are winged and readily fly. Velvet ants are not really ants at all, but a type of wasp. The females have a painful sting, so despite their cuddly-looking appearance, should never be picked up!
Text and Photo by Robyn Waayers. Robyn has been a resident of San Diego County since 1977, and is a biology instructor at Palomar, Miramar and Southwestern Colleges, and is also a freelance nature photographer. Contact information: email@example.com
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