BugFinder Insects by State Spiders Butterflies & Moths Bees, Ants, & Wasps Beetles All Bugs Videos (YouTube)

Velvet Ant (Dasymutilla spp.)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Velvet Ant

Loading SVG image placeholder
Image Credit: Alyssa W.
Full-sized image of the Velvet-Ant Thumbnail image of the Velvet-Ant
Image Credit: Mark S.
Full-sized image #2 of the Velvet-Ant Thumbnail image #2 of the Velvet-Ant

Velvet Ants are excellent mimics of the less intimidating ant, but this wasp-in-disguise inflicts terrible stings on prey and people alike.

Updated: 07/15/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Glistening hairs on the head and abdomen almost beckons to be petted, but a Velvet Ant is a risky insect to touch. Because of their physical and behavioral similarity to ants, it is easy to mistake a female as harmless and not give it a wide berth. Many Velvet Ants are red and black, a classic color combination for insects that are dangerous. The female Velvet Ant is wingless, giving some comfort, but what she lacks in mobility she makes up for in 'bite'. She is a wasp, and her sting is painful and potent. She uses this as a defense against threats, including humans. Males do have wings and can sting, but they do not deliver the same level pain as females. Both genders can create a squeaking noise by doing abdominal crunches.

What most Velvet Wasps use as hosts for feeding their larvae is unknown. The female gets more attention because she is grounded and more visible, but how Velvet Ants generally live can be as varied as the species. Watch out for this wasp in arid and semi-arid regions of the American Southwest and Mexico as well as the central plains states. There are also some species in the Southeast.

General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Insect biting icon
Fast insect icon
Flying insect icon
Hairy insect icon
Insect stinger icon


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Hymenoptera
        Family: Mutillidae
View More
          Genus: Dasymutilla
View More
            Species: spp.
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Dasymutilla spp.
Other Name(s): Cow Killer
Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Size (Adult; Length): 13mm to 25mm (0.51" to 0.98")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black, red, white
Descriptors: stinging, biting, painful, hairy, ant, wasp, fast, flying

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 13mm (0.5in) and 25mm (1.0in)
Lo: 13mm
Md: 19mm
Hi: 25mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
State of Alabama graphic
State of Arizona graphic
State of Arkansas graphic
State of California graphic
State of Colorado graphic
State of Delware graphic
State of Florida graphic
State of Georgia graphic
State of Idaho graphic
State of Illinois graphic
State of Indiana graphic
State of Iowa graphic
State of Kansas graphic
State of Kentucky graphic
State of Louisiana graphic
State of Maine graphic
State of Maryland graphic
State of Michigan graphic
State of Minnesota graphic
State of Mississippi graphic
State of Missouri graphic
State of Montana graphic
State of Nebraska graphic
State of Nevada graphic
State of New England graphic
State of New Jersey graphic
State of New Mexico graphic
State of New York graphic
State of North Carolina graphic
State of North Dakota graphic
State of Ohio graphic
State of Oklahoma graphic
State of Oregon graphic
State of Pennsylvania graphic
State of South Carolina graphic
State of South Dakota graphic
State of Tennessee graphic
State of Texas graphic
State of Utah graphic
State of Virginia graphic
State of Washington graphic
State of West Virginia graphic
State of Wisconsin graphic
State of Wyoming graphic
Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
Canadian territory of British Columbia graphic
Canadian territory of Manitoba graphic
Canadian territory of New Brunswick graphic
Canadian territory of Newfoundland and Labrador graphic
Canadian territory of Ontario graphic
Canadian territory of Quebec graphic
Canadian territory of Saskatchewan graphic
Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Velvet Ant may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Velvet Ant. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


Site Disclaimer  |  Privacy Policy  |  Cookies  |  Sitemap

Beetle Identification Butterfly Identification Caterpillar Identification Spider ID

www.InsectIdentification.org • Content ©2006- InsectIdentification.org • All Rights Reserved. The InsectIdentification.org logo, its written content, and watermarked photographs/imagery are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and is protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. This resource uses publically-released information. Material presented throughout this website is for entertainment value and should not to be construed as usable for scientific research or medical advice (regarding bites, etc...).Please consult licensed, degreed professionals for such information. By submitting images to us (InsectIdentification.org) you acknowledge that you have read and understood our Site Disclaimer as it pertains to "User-Submitted Content". When emailing please include your location and the general estimated size of the specimen in question if possible. Please direct all inquiries and comments to insectidentification AT gmail.com.

www.InsectIdentification.org • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2006-

Facebook Logo YouTube Logo