Insect Identification
Insect Identification

Red Velvet Ant - (Dasymutilla magnifica)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 1/29/2014

The classic warning colors and a spiky coat hint that the Red Velvet Ant is not to be trifled with.

Picture of Red Velvet Ant

Although they look like fuzzy little ants, Velvet ants are actually hairy wasps! They run around the ground like ants, but are capable of delivering a very painful sting like any wasp. They call arid regions of the Southwest U.S. and Mexico home. Males can fly, but females are wingless. It is the female that can sting. All adults drink nectar from desert flowers and drink water where they can find it.

Females lay their fertilized eggs in another wasp's or insect's nest. The Red Velvet Ant larvae hatch first and eat the insect's larvae before they have a chance to escape.

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Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Common name: Red Velvet Ant
Scientific Name: Dasymutilla magnifica

  Kingdom: Animalia
   Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
     Order: Hymenoptera
      Family: Mutillidae
       Genus: Dasymutilla
        Species: magnifica

Adult Size (Length): 18mm to 21mm (0.71in to 0.83in)

Identifying Colors: black; red

Additional Descriptors: stinging, harmful, fuzzy, hairy

North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico

* Keep in mind that insect reach is not governed by lines on a map and therefore may appear in areas/regions/states beyond those listed above.