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A few days ago, in South Africa (specifically in the Abelana Game Reserve), I filmed something that I think it's an insect (I counted six legs), specifically an ant (just because the shape is similar to most ants, but I'm aware that mimiking is something pretty common in the world of insects (and arthropods in general).

I'm curious about what it is.

Here's the main points I could notice (see also the video linked above):

  • the abdomen is black with some symettrically arranged white round-ish dots (at least six); maybe it's also a bit hairy
  • the thorax is hairy and of a dark red color,
  • the head seems to be mostly black,
  • the length is around 1cm or so.
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I believe this is a member of the Velvet Ant family of insects. They are named for their velvety fur and resemblance to ants, but are not ants, rather they are wingless members of the wasp family. They can usually give a (very) painful sting, so should not be handled.

I think, from a browse through iNaturalist, that this is the Velvet Ant Dolichomutilla sycorax. iNaturalist has a gallery of photos on this species here. Despite the limited images on the supplied video, you can clearly see the red thorax, fur and the black abdomen with white spots as shown in the gallery and the similarity to the photo below:

*Dolichomutilla sycorax Image source: copyright riana60 CC By NC, iNaturalist.org.

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