The name panda ant itself suggests that these insects have similar coloration as that of the giant panda found in China. The panda ants appear like ants but they belong to the Mutillidae family which consists of more than three thousand different species of wasps. The panda ants are also know as cow ant or cow killer. They derive this name probably because they have extremely painful stings and can take down large animals like cow by a few stings.
The panda ants do not have queens, workers and drones like real ants. These insects grow approximately up to a length of eight millimeters and they may be two to three millimeters tall. Like most other velvet ants, the panda ants have tough exoskeleton. This feature helps them to retain moisturizer and also helps them to successfully enter the nest of their prey. People who have not see panda ants in their real life may wonder as to where do panda ants live. In answer to this question it must be stated that panda ants mostly live near the coastal areas of central Chile.
When we are discussing about the topic, where do panda ants live we must also take into account as to how these insects work and what they feed on. The food habits of panda ants are also quite interesting. They feed on nectar and the females of these species are usually active during the day time while the male population of this species tends to be nocturnal. The word "thermopilic" perfectly describes the behavioral pattern of the panda ants. The word means that this particular type of insect is more active during temperature that can be experienced after sunset and this particular type of insect is not scared of light.
While discussing about the topic, where do panda ants live, we must mention as to how the panda ants reproduce. It is quite interesting to know that the male panda ants are quite different from the female panda ants. The male is usually much larger than the female and the male places the female on their win while mating. After this the female gets inside an insect nest like a wasp nest or bumblebee nest and then deposits one egg close each pupa or larva. The young ones of the panda ants then develop or grow as "idiobiont ectoparasitoids" which means that they eventually kill their immobile pupa or larva host within just a few days time.
Most people think that all panda ants can sting. However, this is not the case because only the female panda ants have stings. The stinger is nothing but a modified type of female organ which is known as ovipositor. Both the male and the female panda ants have a structure named as stridulitrum on the metasoma. This structure helps to produce a chirping or squeaking sound when the panda ant is alarmed.
The panda ant lays approximately 2000 eggs a year but even then they are on the verge of extinction. This is because the young panda ants often fall prey to ant eaters. However, if these insects survive they can live as long as two years.