Subject: Bug identification
Geographic location of the bug: Scottsdale Arizona
Time: 02:32 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Hello,
We were on a Hummer excursion near Scottsdale on an Indian reservation and I saw this guy crossing one of the paths. The guide said it was a baby tarantula but I’m doubtful because of the legs. I’m hoping you can help identify it.
How you want your letter signed: Traci Curtis
This is a Velvet Ant, a flightless, solitary, female Wasp that is reported to have a very painful sting. This is most likely a member of the genus Dasymutilla, which is well represented on BugGuide, and it might be the Magnificent Velvet Ant, Dasymutilla magnifica, which is pictured on the Arizona Naturalist site where it states: “The sting is reportedly very painful, but it’s function is to disarm other stinging insects such as bees. Velvet ants enter the nests of other wasps/bees, sting the owner into submission, and lay their own egg in the owner’s larder. Later the developing velvet ant grub will consume the bee grub. Some other velvet ants are parasites of grasshopper eggs in the soil.”