Cowkiller Velvet Ant

The mutillids, like this Dasymutilla occidentalis, are abundant this year, possibly because of this cool connect:

These solitary wasps are hyperparasitoids (i.e., parasites of parasites) on cicada killers (like this Sphecius speciosus, which are themselves parasitoids of cicadas… and this year saw a large emergence of 17-year cicadas.

The individual here is a female – males have wings and are not as vibrantly orange – and wasp vibrating as I photographed her.  I discuss cicada killers and velvet ants in lecture, but I was unaware they had such an awesome  natural history connection…

Cow Ant - Mullidae - 09.13.2013 - 14.00.42

Cow Ant - Mullidae - 09.13.2013 - 13.59.54