May 14, 2013
Color:Black, with areas of very bright red, orange, yellow or white
Shape: Females – wingless, ant-like; Males – winged, wasp-like
Size: 1/8″ 7/8″ (3-23 mm)
Region: Found throughout U.S.
The common name of “velvet ant” is misleading because velvet ants are actually wasps. They get the velvet part of their name from the very fuzzy females, which are wingless and often brightly colored. Various species of cow killer ants are found throughout the United States.
Female velvet ants dig into the nesting chambers of ground-nesting bees and wasps and lay their eggs on the larvae inside. When the immature velvet ant is born, it eats its host and then spins its cocoon within the pupal case of its host.
Female cow killer ants are typically seen running somewhat erratically on the ground, especially on bare or sandy areas in the warm summer months. They occasionally enter structures for insect prey. Males are often found on flowers, although some species are nocturnal.
Female velvet ants have a very potent sting that has earned them the nickname “cow-killer.” Male velvet ants lack a stinger but have wings.
Due to the threats posed by velvet ants, it is important that you do not attempt to control this pest on your own. Remain vigilant and if you suspect velvet ant activity around your home, contact Pest Ops so your pest problem may be dealt with professionally. To schedule an appointment click here or call Pest Ops at (865) 966-0750.