Subject: Ant ? Wasp?
Location: Rancho Santa Margarita ca
May 27, 2016 8:00 pm
I found this today when I was doing some planting in my backyard. I’ve never seen anything like this but we get odd creatures all the time. I’m glad I found your site so I can get help identifying some of these that I find. The white contrast with the black legs was so striking! Not knowing what it is I kept my dog, who found it, away. Should I be concerned about more showing up?
Signature: Curious critter finder
Dear Curious critter finder,
This is both an Ant and a Wasp. Your female, flightless Wasp in the family Mutillidae is commonly called a Velvet Ant, so she is an Ant by name and a Wasp by classification, though for even more clarification, both Wasps and Ants are classified together in the Order Hymenoptera. Velvet Ants are not aggressive, but they are very active and purposeful, and they will defend themselves with a very painful sting should you or your dog bother one with an exposed body part. We are going to make your sighting the Bug of the Month for June 2016. We have had the Cow Killer, a common Velvet Ant from the eastern portion of North America featured in the past as the Bug of the Month in August 2012, but this time we want to feature the diverse Velvet Ants found in the southwest. Many Velvet Ants sport aposomatic or warning coloration, often red or orange and black, to advertise their painful stings. This particular individual, which may be Dasymutilla sackeni, is well represented on BugGuide with individuals from California.