Currently viewing the category: "Velvet Ants"

Subject:  iD this bug
Geographic location of the bug:  South Carolina
Date: 07/20/2021
Time: 05:14 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This flying insect along with many more of the same were swarming low to the ground around some blooming flowers. However they seemed more interested in the pine straw than the nectar. Will he sting? Children pass through here often.
How you want your letter signed:  Kim

Male Velvet Ant

Dear Kim,
There is a group of flightless female Wasps in the family Mutillidae that are commonly called Velvet Ants because they resemble Ants, and they are known to deliver a very painful sting.  Only the females are flightless and though the family is referred to as Velvet Ants, it is only the females that truly deserve that name, but for the sake of convenience, we will call this a male Velvet Ant.  We believe based on this BugGuide image that the species is
Dasymutilla occidentalis.  The stinger of a Bee or Wasp is a modified ovipositor, an organ used in the laying of eggs.  Male wasps do not lay eggs, do not need an ovipositor, and consequently, they cannot sting.  Watch for the flightless female Velvet Ants called Cowkillers.  They do sting and the sting is reported to be quite painful.

Subject:  Beautiful and big Ant
Geographic location of the bug:  Caracas, Venezuela
Date: 08/01/2019
Time: 05:50 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I foud the ant at my yard this morning. It`s the second one I see in a year. it`s about 3 cmts. long.
How you want your letter signed:  Arturo

Velvet Ant

Dear Arturo,
We feel quite certain that this is a Velvet Ant, a flightless female Wasp in the family Mutillidae.  We just hope we can find an image on the internet to confirm our identification.  BINGO.  Here is an image on Steemit, but alas, it is not identified to the species.  This image on FlickR is identified as being in the genus
HoplomutillaInstazu has many images.  Velvet Ants are reported to have a very painful sting.  One species of Velvet Ant from North America is commonly called a Cow Killer though we don’t know of any actual documentation of a cow dying from the sting of a Cow Killer.

Thak you Daniel for your prompt response. and especially for the information about the  very painful sting of the  ant (wasp). I was triyng to put her on my hand, thank God she did`n want to climb up my fingers.
Regards,
Arturo

Subject:  Bug identification
Geographic location of the bug:  Scottsdale Arizona
Date: 04/15/2019
Time: 02:32 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello,
We were on a Hummer excursion near Scottsdale on an Indian reservation and I saw this guy crossing one of the paths. The guide said it was a baby tarantula but I’m doubtful because of the legs. I’m hoping you can help identify it.
Thank you,
How you want your letter signed:  Traci Curtis

Velvet Ant

Dear Traci,
This is a Velvet Ant, a flightless, solitary, female Wasp that is reported to have a very painful sting.  This is most likely a member of the genus
Dasymutilla, which is well represented on BugGuide, and it might be the Magnificent Velvet Ant, Dasymutilla magnifica, which is pictured on the Arizona Naturalist site where it states:  “The sting is reportedly very painful, but it’s function is to disarm other stinging insects such as bees. Velvet ants enter the nests of other wasps/bees, sting the owner into submission, and lay their own egg in the owner’s larder. Later the developing velvet ant grub will consume the bee grub. Some other velvet ants are parasites of grasshopper eggs in the soil.”

Thank you for the information and links. One of the sites said they are hard to photograph because they don’t stay on the trails long. This one was a friendly little ant and I’m happy we didn’t decide to pick it up!
Have a great day!

Subject:  Stings
Geographic location of the bug:  Central Virginia
Date: 08/11/2018
Time: 08:22 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This creature was in my house and stung my foot. It really hurt and caused some swelling. I typically don’t have bad reaction to stings so I just put some ice on spot and rubbed in some Benadryl cream.
How you want your letter signed:  Ed

Velvet Ant

Dear Ed,
Your image is quite blurry, but based on your description, we are relatively certain this is a Velvet Ant, a flightless female wasp with a reportedly very painful sting.

Thank you. Yes, very painful.
I enjoy your site.

Subject:  Is this a velvet ant species?
Geographic location of the bug:  Washington, Texas
Date: 08/04/2018
Time: 11:04 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Found this in our home in Washington, Texas. Looks like an ant, but could be a velvet ant (aka wasp). I’d appreciate any help identifying!
How you want your letter signed:  Thank you!

Velvet Ant

You are correct that this is a Velvet Ant, a flightless female wasp in the family Mutillidae and not a true Ant.  Velvet Ants should be handled with caution as they are capable of delivering a painful sting.  We are unable to provide you with a species name at this time.

Subject:  Velvet Wasp
Geographic location of the bug:  Central North Carolina
Date: 06/10/2018
Time: 04:42 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Kitty discovered this inside our house. I got to it before she did and found your site that identified 8t. I hadn’t found an orange one. My question is, is it beneficial (if so, I’ll release it), and how do we prevent others entering our house? Thank you!
How you want your letter signed:  Prefer red velvet cake

Velvet Ant

You are correct that this is a Velvet Ant, a female wasp in the family Mutillidae, and we believe we have correctly identified it as Timulla euterpe thanks to images posted to BugGuide, though BugGuide only documents two sightings, one from Louisiana and one from Tennessee, indicating this is not a commonly encountered species.  We would urge you to release her.  The best way to ensure no further encounters in the home is to seal gaps in windows and doors.  Female Velvet Ants wander in search of suitable hosts to serve as food for her brood, and we believe she accidentally entered your home, so you most likely will not need to worry much about further intrusions.  According to BugGuide:  “Ectoparasitoids of immature insects, esp. bees and solitary wasps (also flies, limacodid moths, beetles, and cockroaches)”  and predatory species help to control numbers of other insects, so we would consider this native species to be beneficial.  As is characteristic of members of the family, female Velvet Ants are known to deliver a painful sting.