David Element


Wildlife Photography and Digital Video Images


_____________________________________________________ Hymenoptera 35 – Velvet Ants




                                                                                        VELVET ANT Nemka viduata


·         This female Velvet Ant Nemka viduata (in actuality a flightless wasp) was photographed in Portugal and unlike British mutillids she did not try to run away when being photographed. Males are fully winged and these insects are parasitic on other ground-nesting aculeate hymenopterans. According to Paul Brock’s ‘A photographic guide to Insects of Southern Europe & the Mediterranean’ Pisces Publications 2017, ISBN 978-1-874357-79-7 they can produce a painful sting and stridulate when handled. The photographer has some degree of curiosity about the order in which these aspects of behaviour were ascertained! It is not known if the miniscule ant was in attendance but the proximity of its antennae to that of the Velvet Ant indicates that there may have been some pheromonal communication going on. This link: http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20151014-superpowers-of-the-near-invincible-velvet-ant describes some of the sophisticated chemical weaponry employed by these insects and suggests that the production of ketones may be used to deter attacks from ants. So the juxtaposition of this ant may have been a matter of pure coincidence, it might have been investigating the much larger Velvet Ant in response to the detection of chemical signals and if so these could have been released in order to deter or attract it. Other insects produce secretions in order to win protection from ants but in this case (and in the light of the context of this article) deterrence would appear to have been more likely.



-> Hymenoptera 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50


-> Species Index, Common Names


-> Species Index, Scientific Names


-> Site Index


-> Home


© David Element