Scientific Name: Euspinolia militaris
Species: E. militaris
Panda ant is a wasp and not the ant. It is named panda ant as it gives the illusion of panda due to its unique coloration. It has six legs. It has a white head with black eyes on it and white body with black marks on it. It has long hairs on the body that gives it a velvety appearance. It has a black thorax. There is a white square present in the middle of the thorax.
There are two black dots on its abdomen near its black colored legs, lines goes through these dots up to the anus. Their stingers are present near the mouth. The wings of the male panda ant are transparent and the female panda ant donot possess wings. Its unique coloration is actually aposematic; an alarm for its strong painful sting. It provides defense to the panda ant. It is almost 8 mm in length and 2 – 3 mm in height.
Its stings are very strong but still it do not cast any danger to humans except some minor allergies. Stings of panda ant can illicit life threatening allergic reactions. Its stings are really painful and can be treated using ice to reduce swelling. Itching caused by panda ants sting can be cured using hydrocortisone cream or other such creams.
If mild allergic reaction occur, it can be reduced using anti allergic medicine. Like other stings it can sting again and again with same “ovipositor come stinger” as it is very smooth. This stinger is provided with avenomous glands.
Panda ants are native to Chile forests and they inhabit mild climatic coastal areas and deserts of Mexico, Argentina and United states. It prefers dry and sandy regions.
Anteaters preys upon it and it is about to extinct as it is preyed upon excessively by its predators. Its bright colors make it easily noticeable by its predators.
Other Important Facts
- Behavior: Panda ants are solitary wasps. They do not form nests nor do they live in colonies. They do not have drones, workers and queens. Female panda ants are active during day time. It means female panda ants are diurnal. Male panda ants are active at night time means that they are nocturnal. Panda ant can change color to frighten its predator.
- Thermophilic: Panda ant is thermophilic in nature. It means that it is more active when temperature becomes cool, especially after sunset.
- Cow Killer: It can kill a cow with its 6 – 10 stings. That’s why it is sometimes called as “white cow killer”.
- Skeleton: Panda ants have one of the hardest known exoskeleton which saves them from water loss in dry climates. This exoskeleton is very important for the survival of panda ant in dry and sandy regions of Chile as it help retain water. This exoskeleton also helps panda ant to invade the nests of its hosts.
- Calls: This specie produces threat calls in response to predators and threats. The calls it produce has ultrasonic unique component. It is very remarkable, shear and chirp like call. The sound is produced by rubbing different body organs; this technique is called as stridulation. The organ known as stridulitium is present on the posterior region of the ant produces this strong chirping sound. Stridulation is used to produce mating calls and also alarm calls.
- Reproduction: Male lifts female and mate during airborne condition. Males are so much larger than female panda ants that they can pick up the female panda ant during flight and mate. It then drops the female panda ant on ground safely. The female panda ant then burrows into the ground nest of insects. It then lays its eggs inside each pupa of nest using ovipositor. It uses this ovipositor for stinging and defense purpose also. Female panda ant can lay up to 2000 eggs throughout its life.
- Parasitism: Panda ants are ectoparasites of larvae and pre pupae of other insects.
- Lifespan: Panda ant has a life span of about 2 years.
- Discovery: It was first discovered in 1938 in the forests of Chile.
- Diet: The eggs of panda ant feed on larval and prepupal tissues of host organism. Eventually the host dies. However, the adult feed upon nectar and pollen grains primarily. The female can also take advantage of small insects, caterpillars and unprotected larval or pre pupal insects.
- Sexual Dimorphism: Females are smaller in size than males showing sexual dimorphism. Moreover, males are winged and the females are wingless. Males are so much larger than female panda ants that they can pick up the female panda ant during flight and mate.
- Wasps Not The Ants: Female Panda Ant look more like ant as it donot have wings and its stringer is modified into ovipositor. While male panda looks more like how wasps look and it do not have a stringer.
- Nesting: This specie donot make nests. Rather it lies its eggs in other insects eggs.
- Relations: It is a close relative of velvet ant and cow killer ant.
“Euspinolia militaris: A Model System for the Study of Social Immunity” by Michael L. Rust, Alexander S. Mikheyev, and Daniel E. Neafsey. … Continue reading“Olfactory communication in the ant Euspinolia militaris” by E. R. Traniello, S. A. Reppert, and J. D. Roitberg https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0003347279901377“The role of the mandibular glands in the chemical communication of the ant Euspinolia militaris” by E. R. Traniello, J. D. Roitberg, and S. A. Reppert … Continue reading“The evolution of social behavior in ants” by E. O. Wilson https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982299800937
Dr. Muhammad Tahir Ph.D. (PU)
American Museum of Natural History, New York, USA
|↑1||“Euspinolia militaris: A Model System for the Study of Social Immunity” by Michael L. Rust, Alexander S. Mikheyev, and Daniel E. Neafsey. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fevo.2018.00160/full|
|↑2||“Olfactory communication in the ant Euspinolia militaris” by E. R. Traniello, S. A. Reppert, and J. D. Roitberg https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0003347279901377|
|↑3||“The role of the mandibular glands in the chemical communication of the ant Euspinolia militaris” by E. R. Traniello, J. D. Roitberg, and S. A. Reppert https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0003347281901077|
|↑4||“The evolution of social behavior in ants” by E. O. Wilson https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982299800937|