July 11, 2009
We found this ant in West Salem Oregon. It was found along a dirt road and has lasted for about 45 days and is still alive in a jar with holes in the lid. I have looked everywhere for some clue as to what it is and can not find anything about this ant the closest that I can find is the cowkiller ant or the velvet ant. Could you help me find out what this ant is? The ant when we first got it had yellow “hair” it has now started to burrow in the dirt I have in the jar and so it has turned brown from the dirt.
Salem Oregon USA
The Cowkiller is one distinctive species of Velvet Ant in the genus Dasymutilla. Your specimen is a related species in the same genus, possibly Dasymutilla aureola. We will try to get a second opinion from Eric Eaton on the species identification. Female Velvet Ants are flightless wasps with a painful sting. The winged males do not sting.
Update from Eric Eaton
Your species ID of the Oregon velvet ant is correct. The “blockhead” appearance is pretty diagnostic.