||Black, with areas of very bright red, orange, yellow or white
||Females – wingless, ant-like; Males – winged, wasp-like
||1/8 – 7/8” (3-23 mm)
||Found throughout U.S.
The common name of "velvet ant" is misleading because velvet
ants are actually wasps. They get the velvet part of their name
from the very fuzzy females, which are wingless and often brightly
colored. Various species of cow killer ants are found throughout
the United States.
Female velvet ants dig into the nesting chambers of
ground-nesting bees and wasps and lay their eggs on the larvae
inside. When the immature velvet ant is born, it eats its host and
then spins its cocoon within the pupal case of its host.
Female cow killer ants are typically seen running somewhat
erratically on the ground, especially on bare or sandy areas in the
warm summer months. They occasionally enter structures for insect
prey. Males are often found on flowers, although some species are
Female velvet ants have a very potent sting that has earned them
the nickname "cow-killer." Male velvet ants lack a stinger but have