25 Sep 🐜 Have you ever heard of a velvet ant?
Posted at 09:00h in Citizen Science
Velvet ants are actually wasps that parasitise bees. So why are they called ants? And what’s up with the velvet? Female velvet ants are wingless and covered with often brightly-coloured hairs, giving them the appearance of velvety-soft ants. But don’t be fooled by their soft appearance! Velvet ants can inflict a very painful sting.
Groups of different species of velvet ants and wasps have evolved to look similar. They may benefit from this because a predator that learns to stay away from one species, will learn to stay away from other similar looking species. When different species with a similar defence mechanism (e.g. sting) evolve to look similar, this is called Müllerian mimicry.
CSIRO and the University of Leeds are calling on people to play a short online game that will help investigate mimicry among velvet ant species.
To be involved, check out the link below!