panda ant, Euspinolia militaris (2)

photo: DrSarahJensen via Flickr

panda ant, Euspinolia militaris (4)

photo: Julián Tocce

Habitat: Chile and Argentina
Status: Not Evaluated

First described in 1938, this fascinating species was quickly nicknamed the Panda Ant (Euspinolia militaris) after its markings which resembled those of a Giant Panda. While it looks just like a fluffy ant, it’s actually not an ant at all! It’s really a species of wingless wasp related to the Red Velvet Ant, or “cow killer” as it is eerily dubbed. The killer nickname comes from the ants’ painful sting which is said to be strong enough to subdue a cow.

Like the Red Velvet Ant, the Panda Ant also packs a powerful sting that can temper just about anything – or anyone – that crosses its path. That’s really all anyone knows about this unique creature as it has been spotted only a handful of times and barely even studied. I can tell you that it would be all I could do not to give this guy a little tickle, though. That fuzzy black and white panda coloration is just too cute! Too bad it would probably destroy me in a single bite. Sigh.