The Yellow Velvet Ant is a stinging wasp in disguise - its colors and bristly hairs offering fair warning.
Despite its name, the Velvet Ant isn't an ant at all! It is a type of wasp. True ants have bent antennae and a twice-constricted waist, unlike velvet ants which retain their straight wasp-like antennae and have only one waist. They are mainly found in the arid and semi-arid states of the southwestern U.S. and Mexico
This family of wasp is mostly solitary instead of living in nests and in large numbers. Only males have wings and fly, the ground-laden females can deliver a painful sting and should not be trifled with. They are not considered aggressive and are more likely to flee from people rather than engage. Both have dense, short yellow or orange-yellow hairs covering the body, and black legs.
Yellow Velvet Ant larvae are parasitic. Females lay their fertilized wasp eggs in the nest of other bees or wasps. The Yellow Velvet Ant larvae hatch first and then devour the other species' larvae. Adults feed on water and nectar.
Scientific Name: Dasymutilla spp.
Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Size (Adult; Length): 6mm to 25mm (0.23in to 0.98in)
Note: 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 as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.
Ant, Bee, and Wasp Anatomy
Antennae: Ants and Bees both have a pair of antennae on the head that senses their surroundings.
Head: The head contains the insect's compound eyes, antennae, and mandibles.
Thorax: Contains various vital parts such as the aorta and nervous system.
Abdomen: Contains various organs including the heart, gut, venom glands, and anus.
Legs: Ants and Bees have three pairs of legs attached to the thorax (center-body section).
NOTE: Ants, Bees and Wasps are part of the Hymenoptera order because they share many similarities.