The Panda ant is an interesting insect with a misleading name. It is not a panda but actually a species of velvet ant, and velvet ant are not ants at all—but wasps. Still, the Panda ant has a fuzzy appearance and distinct black and white colourings similar to that of a panda, which is how it gets its name. Perhaps the reason for their misidentification as ants rather than wasps is the fact that Panda ants, like all velvet ants, exhibit extreme sexual dimorphism. This means that male and female Panda ants have distinctly different physical features. In the case of Panda ants, the males have large wings that allow them to fly, while the females have no wings and are confined to the ground where they are mistaken for large ants. This dimorphism is so extreme that scientists have had difficulty determining whether a male and female belong to the same species. The wings of male Panda ants allow them to carry females aloft while mating. Panda ants are small, well under an inch in length. They live only in the sclerophyll forests of Chile, but their relatives in the velvet ant family live worldwide—with around 8,000 distinct species known to science. Velvet ants including the Panda ant are known for their extremely painful stings, which has earned them the name of cow-killer ants. The Panda ant is unlikely to sting unless provoked, however. Despite their fuzzy appearance, the exoskeleton of the Panda ant is actually incredibly tough. This is a great defence against other insects, and also a way for the Panda ant to retain moisture inside its body. The colouring of this exoskeleton is a type of mimicry—the bright contrasting colours of the Panda ant are meant to confuse any predators into thinking that the ant is poisonous when eaten. If that defence fails, Panda ants will resort to their sting. Interestingly, Panda ants are ectoparasites, which means that the female lays its eggs in larvae of other insects. When the eggs hatch, they feed on that larva to grow. This is a unique way for the panda ant to hijack the nests of other insects.
Keywords to learn
Temperament: A person’s or animal’s nature, especially as it permanently affects their behaviour
Genus: A principal taxonomic category that ranks above species and below family, and is denoted by a capitalized Latin name
Hey Kids, my name is the Piper the Panda ant and I am very happy to meet you. Learn more about me and my species.
- Lifespan:2 years.
- Scientific name:Euspinolia militaris.
- Mass:1g (0.4 oz).
- Length:5mm – 8mm (0.2in – 0.3in).
- Region Found:Chile.
- Population Status:Endangered.
- Current population trend:Decreasing.
- Sexual maturity:No data.
The panda ant is a fascinating insect that has many unique characteristics. While it may appear cute, its parasitic nature and painful sting might make you think twice about playing with this little insect.
Now that you know more about the Panda ant by learning the key data above, be sure to also to check out the fun facts. When you are finished learning the facts, try answering the questions in the Q&A corner on the bottom right side of the page.
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Dugong Fun Facts for Kids
- # 1. Panda ants are solitary, only meeting to mate.
- # 2. Panda ants are able to make a high-pitched screech that reaches into the ultrasonic wavelengths.
- # 3. The male Panda ant tends to be nocturnal, while females are active during the day.
- # 4. The female Panda ant can lay up to 2000 eggs in just one year.
- # 5. The Panda ant was discovered in 1938.
- # 1. When was the Panda ant discovered?
- # 2. What kind of dimorphism does the Panda ant exhibit?
- # 3. How many eggs does a Panda ant lay every year?
- # 4. What is the defence reason behind the Panda ant’s colour pattern?
- # 5. Where are Panda ants found in the world?