Males have wings and are incapable of stinging. Scientific Name: Dasymutilla occidentalis (Linnaeus) Adults are most common during the warm summer months. ", 5 Parasites That Turn Animals Into Zombies, Ants, Bees, and Wasps (Order Hymenoptera), A Brief Introduction to All Kinds of Ants, Ants, Habits and Traits of the Family Formicidae, Insects: The Most Diverse Animal Group in the Planet, The Bullet Ant: The Insect With the World's Most Painful Sting, A.S., Nursing, Chattahoochee Technical College. Males fly and have no stingers, while females have no wings but can produce an extremely painful sting. Most species of velvet ants are found in the southern and western parts of North America, and there are over 50 species in Florida alone. 1982. These wasps are not normally aggressive and will not sting unless aggravated. If anything stabs me like that I sure as heck am going to drop them. Pest Status: The common name, “cow killer,” is thought to describe the painful sting these insects can inflict to man and animals, although it is doubtful that many cows are actually stung. Literature: Borror et al. James & Harwood 1969; Swan & Papp 1972. Females are brightly colored and wingless (not all are red, some are orange or even black and white), and they hunt around on the ground while males can be a completely different color, they fly, and are found higher up in vegetation. Females are most often found scurrying along the ground looking for nests of host species, while males are found on flowers. The red velvet ant is actually a species of wasp. Gruesome! Velvet ants have not been assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and are not considered pests because they rarely invade homes. Both males and females have abdomens (metasoma) made up of overlapping plates. Most are solitary parasites of immature wasps (Vespidae and Sphecidae), solitary bees and some other insects such as beetles and flies. Larvae are parasites of white grubs (Coleoptera: Scarabeidae). Red Velvet Ants Have Many Ways to Protect Themselves. They may also consume larvae and adult insects, such as flies and beetles. Scientists like big terms for everything, so to say that males and females are different it's called "sexual dimorphism" (males look different than females).
Click for a hub of Extension resources related to the current COVID-19 situation. It still hurts enough for you to want to drop them. Velvet ants are part of class Insecta and are found worldwide. Working outside, and in Education, I often get queries and questions about things people find in their yards or sidewalks. A tiphiid, Myzinum sp. The name "red velvet ant" is a deceiving title for a small insect. The Ant Wasp.
On the plates is a structure called a stridulitrum (st-rid-you-light-rum). (Hymenoptera: Tiphiidae) are black and yellow, 3/4 inch long .
Almost all red velvet ants deliver a crazy painful sting, and the old wives' tale goes that it is so painful that it could "kill a cow." Rating. It is named for its thick hair and color. Mullerian mimicry is when two or more species look like each other to warn off other animals from eating/attacking them. genitalia. Velvet ants don't just use a powerful sting to defend themselves, most also have a combination of traits ranging from smelly chemical secretions, bright red or orange warning signs (never play with anything in nature that is bright red), sound signals, a super hard outer shell, and their bite. Larvae are solitary, external parasites of developing bumble bees. The most common one around our area (Eastern US) is the species called Dasymutilla occidentalis occidentalis (pictured below). Red velvet ants belong to the family Mutilidae (not reassuring when any family name includes "mutilate" in the name), order Hymenoptera, which is a group of about 435 species of wasps. As parasites, they attack bumblebee nests, other kinds of wasp nests, and even fly and beetle nests to implant their eggs into them.
Females are wingless and covered with dense hair, superficially resembling ants.