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
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.