Red Velvet Ant (Dasymutilla magnifica)
Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Red Velvet Ant.
Updated: 1/29/2014; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The classic warning colors and a spiky coat hint that the Red Velvet Ant is not to be trifled with.
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.