Metallic Brown Spider Wasp


Red Velvet Ant - Acetotilla  sp.

Family Mutillidae 

This page contains pictures and information about Red Velvet Ants that we found in the Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia.
Wingless female, body length 12mm 
Male and female of Velvet Ant look quite different. Red Velvet Ant winged male is black in colour with white hairs on the head. The wingless female is dark reddish brown in colour with patch pf white hairs on abdomen. 
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Winged male, body length 15mm                           Wingless female, body length 12mm 

Red Velvet Ant mating pair

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On mid-summer 2007 in Karawatha Forest, we saw this Red Velvet Ant female walking slowly on a sandy footpath, with abdomen tip pointing upward. After we took a few pictures, a winged black wasp came and mated with the Red Velvet Ant.
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We then understand that the wingless female Velvet was calling for a male by releasing her pheromones. Notice the hairy abdomen tip that may help in releasing the pheromones. 
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They were in mating position for about 20 seconds, then separated (in contrast with the Blue Ants in family TIPHIIDAE). After mating, the winged wasp rested about 10 seconds on the floor then flied away. The Red Velvet Ant female resumed its abdomen pointing upward posture and slowly walked away. 
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Notice the long ovipositor of the female in the above picture.
We seldom saw this Velvet Ant, but in the same day we saw a few of them walking around in different locations in the Karawatha Forest. We believed this time of the year could be their mating season.

1. Insects of Australia and New Zealand - R. J. Tillyard, Angus & Robertson, Ltd, Sydney, 1926, p295. 
2. Northern Territory Insects, A Comprehensive Guide CD - Graham Brown, 2009. 

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Last updated: July 14, 2012.