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Red Velvet Ant (Dasymutilla magnifica)

Detailing the identifying qualities of the Red Velvet Ant, including physical features and territorial reach.

 Updated: 1/29/2014; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Red Velvet Ant  
Picture of Red-Velvet-Ant

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.

Red Velvet Ant Information

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

Taxonomy Hierarchy

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

Size, Identifying Tags and Territorial Reach

Size (Adult, Length): Size (Adult, Length): 18 mm to 21 mm (0.702 inches to 0.819 inches)
Identifying Colors: black; red
Additional Descriptors: stinging, harmful, fuzzy, hairy

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

A Note About Territorial Reach: Keep in mind that an insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above. Insects are driven by environmental factors, food supplies and mating patterns and do not nescessarily work within hard-and-fast territorial lines like we humans do.

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