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.
Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Common name: Red Velvet Ant
Scientific Name: Dasymutilla magnifica
Adult Size (Length): 18mm to 21mm (0.71in to 0.83in) COMPARE
Identifying Colors: black; red
General Description: 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.