Thistledown Velvet Ants from Baja California, Mexico

Ant, white fur
January 5, 2010
Found these ants on the beach of Nopolo about 5 miles south of Loreto. About 1/2 inch in lenght brillant white fur in the sun light.
they appeared to be bits of white fluff blowing in the breeze.
one of them bit me and it hurt like heck
Kevin Kirkman
Loreto Baja Sur California, Mexico

Thistledown Velvet Ant
Thistledown Velvet Ant

Dear Kevin,
We are very excited to have a new species of Velvet Ant for our website.  This appears to be a Thistledown Velvet Ant, Dasymutilla gloriosa. Velvet Ants are actually flightless female wasps, and they can produce a painful sting.  We suspect you were stung and not bitten.   According to BugGuide:  “Female lays eggs in burrows of sand-wasps, such as Bembix. The larvae feed on larvae of the wasp and the food provided by the adult wasps. Pupation occurs in larval chambers of host.
”  Back in 2005, we received the following correction for some Thistledown Velvet Ant images we erroneously identified:  “I’ve just discovered your excellent site (directed there by “This is True”), and as a hymenopterist have a few comments: All of the “thistledown velvet ants” shown are actually Dasymutilla nocturna, not Dasymutilla gloriosa. The latter has the erect hairs somewhat sparser and more “untidy”, the body is a reddish brown, not black, and all the hairs are whitish (no black hairs), so the legs look whitish.  I hope these comments are useful.  Denis”  Your Velvet Ants have erect sparse hairs and white legs, so we are relatively confident we are correct this time in saying they are Thistledown Velvet Ants.

Thistledown Velvet Ants
Thistledown Velvet Ants

Thanks for the info, interesting these are wasps not ants, they look like ants, I have more pictures if you want them just send me a email address to send them to, my thumb is still aching a day after being stung
KK

Thistledown Velvet Ant
Thistledown Velvet Ant

Hi again Kevin,
Thanks for sending additional images of these wonderful Thistledown Velvet Ants in their natural habitat.

Thistledown Velvet Ant
Thistledown Velvet Ant
Photo of author

bugman

BugMan aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. WhatsThatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

7 thoughts on “Thistledown Velvet Ants from Baja California, Mexico”

  1. ARE THESE ANTS CONSIDERED POISIONESS AND DOES A PERSON NEED TO SEE A DOCTOR?

    WHAT DOES THE AFFECTED AREA OF THE STING LOOK LIKE AND HOW SHOULD IT BE TREATED?

    Reply
    • Velvet Ants have a venomous sting and the reaction would vary from person to person. Though the sting is reported to be painful, to the best of our knowledge, it is not dangerous to the average person who does not have an allergic reaction.

      Reply
  2. ARE THESE ANTS CONSIDERED POISIONESS AND DOES A PERSON NEED TO SEE A DOCTOR?

    WHAT DOES THE AFFECTED AREA OF THE STING LOOK LIKE AND HOW SHOULD IT BE TREATED?

    Reply
  3. I saw these on a camping trip, with my friends of Nonurbia.com, also just south of Mulege at El Requeson beach, which is attached by a sand spit to Isla Requeson. At first, I thought it was a fuzzy cigarette filter blowing across the sand, but soon realized it was propelled with intention! I was so intrigued by these scurrying, funny little things that I asked the campground landlady about them in my broken Spanish- she replied- “No Amigo! NO Amigo!!!” with a severe emphasis. With a little more prodding she mimed a bite/sting and stab of pain. She was somehow able to get across the fact that it was only painful and not poisonous. Apparently they are mostly active at dusk or dawn, not in between, so fairly easy to avoid. I avoided them w mucho cuidado after that. They are such an incongruous sight scampering around in their little fur coats on a boiling hot sand beach at the Sea of Cortez in June…

    Reply
  4. I too learned the hard way about what looks to be a bit of white fuzz. Yikes!! Their sting is incredibly painful and leaves you with a memory of it for a day. Best to let these cute lil fuzz balls go on their way.

    Reply

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