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Velvet Ants

The recent warm weather has the creepy crawlies emerging from their hidey-holes a bit earlier this year. I spotted this little lady in Winnabow a few days ago. She is a velvet ant. Strangely enough, velvet ants aren’t actually ants.

Velvet ants are parasitic wasps that are common in North Carolina. I’m not much of a bug lover, so I’m not sure what type she is. I do know she’s a female, though. Velvet ant males have wings, while females do not.

When I moved to Wilmington as a kid, I remember playmates warning me about these wasps. They are famous for their painful stings. Some of them have stings that rank 3 out of 4 on the Schmidt pain index. The pain can last for up to 30 minutes.

Sporting bright red or orange fuzz on their bodies makes velvet ants easy to identify. Luckily, they aren’t aggressive and only sting out of self-defense. So give them a wide berth, and they’re happy to pretend you don’t exist. 😉

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