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Velvet Ant? - Dasymutilla quadriguttata

Velvet Ant? - Dasymutilla quadriguttata
Richland Springs / Double L Ranch, Texas, USA
July 3, 2005
Quick-moving, maybe 1/2 inch long, spotted in rocky ground on a ranch in the Texas Hill Country, mid-morning (8:48am) 4th of July.

Yes it is,
and I'll bet it has mimics with two white spots on black and a red-brown front section. I know these things are mimicked in Africa. Don't handle. They're actually wingless wasps and they sting.

Mimicked by what?

Beetles most likely,
but other arthropods that share the same habitat and spend a lot of time on the ground -- possibly spiders, some of which appear to mimic true ants. On the other hand, maybe all the velvet ant mimics live in Africa. I'm just guessing because of the bold markings that advertise a painful sting, and the fact that there *are* velvet ant mimics elsewhere.

Dasymutilla quadriguttata
This is a very cool species.

The most convincing mimics of mutillids, in my opinion, are checkered beetles, Cleridae. In the clerid section on this site, there is a really good mimic of the less hairy eastern species. Also, there are many nocturnal clerids that look extremely similar to the pale brown mutillids that are active at that time. To add to the mimicry, most clerids I have played with stridulate just like mutillids do.

There was a paper published last year about a spider genus in Africa (Grapartia, I think) that exclusively mimics mutillids. I think that a lot of jumping spiders carry simialr patterns to mutillids here in the states.

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