Currently viewing the category: "Velvet Ants"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Velvet Ants!
Location:  Paso Robles, California
April 10, 2016
This one is from our house in Paso Robles. I decided to take its photo in the weeds, rather than move it to a nicer photo location 😀

Find the Velvet Ant

Find the Velvet Ant

Julian Donahue Responds
Glad it was useful; interesting differentiation between venom and pain.
Clare: your “velvet ant” picture looks like 100% vegetation–couldn’t make out the wasp at all! :-)
jpd

Dearest Clare,
We love your image, especially because many insects try harder to blend in than to stand out.  We have cropped your image for the internet so that we can challenge our readers to “Find the Velvet Ant” and we are going to try to identify your straw colored
Dasymutilla species.  Perhaps we will just challenge our readers to “Find the Name of the Velvet Ant” after they have located the Hymenopteran in your image.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Red ant locking bug with black legs
Location: Corona, CA
April 10, 2016 11:14 pm
I found this little bug yesterday in the Cleveland National Forrest, Corona, CA. Can you tell what is it?
Signature: Peter

Velvet Ant

Velvet Ant

Dear Peter,
This is a flightless female wasp known as a Velvet Ant and she is reported to have a very painful sting.  Your Velvet Ant is in the genus
Dasymutilla, possibly Dasymutilla aureola pacifica based on this BugGuide image, though we suspect dissection of the genitalia may be the only way to properly determine the species.  The species may be identified, according to BugGuide, because “Females (wingless): Covered with red vestiture; thorax as broad as long, and the head is broader than the thorax.”  Perhaps it is the camera angle, but the head on your Velvet Ant does not appear to be broader than the thorax.  Perhaps based on this BugGuide image, your Velvet Ant might be Dasymutilla vestita.  We include the Velvet Ant on our Big Five link of “Bugs” that may result in an extremely painful and/or possibly deadly encounter, though that deadliness is far more likely to occur in the “Bug” than the human.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Ant/wasp…i dunno
Location: Zimbabwe, Harare
April 10, 2016 3:05 am
Hi bugman
I found this bug i’ve never seen before. Actually it found me…ouch! Please let me know what it is.
Thanks
Signature: R.C

Velvet Ant

Velvet Ant

Dear R. C.,
Though they are commonly called Velvet Ants in North America, members of the family Mutillidae are actually wasps.  Males are winged and look like typical wasps, but flightless female Velvet Ants more closely resemble Ants.  Velvet Ants are reported to have a very painful sting.  If you are interested, our good friend Lepidopterist Julian Donahue just forwarded us this marvelous link to BBC Earth regarding Velvet Ants.

Thanks Daniel!
Very informative article.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Red looking ant, no fuzz
Location: Ct
August 21, 2015 12:58 pm
Found a few of these near my sons sandbox and wondering if they sting.
Signature: Allison

Velvet Ant

Velvet Ant

Dear Allison,
This is a Velvet Ant, a flightless female wasp and they do sting, and the sting is reported to be painful, but not dangerous.  There are many similar looking species and this looks like it might be  
Dasymutilla gibbosa based on this BugGuide image.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Black and Red Ant-like bug
Location: Eastern Shore Va., Assawoman
August 21, 2015 7:59 am
Eastern Shore of Va….this bug was in my yard….followed it across the small backyard where it disappeared into a grassy clump…no flying, it just crawled…I’m curious about it as the colors seem to shout “don’t touch me”….and I have pets in that area….any help would be appreciated…
Signature: Kathy M.

Cow Killer

Cow Killer

Dear Kathy,
The aposomatic or warning coloration on this Cow Killer, a species of Velvet Ant is doing its job.  The Cow Killer is reported to have a very painful sting, prompting us to include it in our Big 5 tag of insects that can cause pain or harm.  Velvet Ants are actually flightless female wasps.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Velvet Ant
Location: Tidbury Park in Kent County, DE
August 14, 2015 6:13 pm
I have only Seen four of five of these in my life and until I looked them up on your site, I did not know there was more than one kind. This one pictured here was walking around a sandy area with pine trees near a fresh water pond. It walked at a very brisk pace and it was hard to capture an in focus picture. My question is How many kinds of velvet ants are in the U.S. and what are their names? Please feel free to use my picture on your site if you like. The picture was taken on Aug 14th, 2015.
Signature: John Naylor III

Cowkiller

Cowkiller

Dear John,
Your Velvet Ant is actually a flightless female wasp, and she is a member of the species
Dasymutilla occidentalis, a species commonly called a Cow Killer as the sting is reported to be so painful it sometimes causes cows to run, fall and break bones, or possibly run in front of vehicles.  Of the genus,  BugGuide notes there are “140 spp. in our area,” but if the name Velvet Ant is expanded to the family Mutillidae level, BugGuide notes: “480 spp. in our area; about 8,000 spp. in 230 genera/subgenera worldwide.”  We do not have the time tonight to research all their names for you, but you can explore our Velvet Ants category where 108 postings over the years have resulted in many diverse species and some beautiful images.  You are far too humble.  Your image is one of the best Velvet Ant images we have archived on our site.  BugGuide is a far more official and scientific insect identification site, and you will see many more professionally identified and named species on their three genus pages. 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination