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Eastern velvet ant (female)

Dasymutilla occidentalis


The Eastern Velvet Ant is the largest of the velvet ant species in the United States, attaining an approximate length of ¾ of an inch (1.9 cm). Adults display aposematic coloration, consisting of black overall coloring with an orange-red pattern on the dorsal surface of the thorax and abdomen. They are covered in dense velvet-like hair. Females are capable of a extremely painful sting, hence the name "cow killer." They seek out the chambers of ground-nesting bumble bees and other members of Hymenoptera, where they deposit an egg onto a host larva. The egg quickly hatches into a white legless grub, which consumes the host and goes through several larval stages prior to pupa formation. Unlike the females, males have dark, transparent wings and no sting. (information from Wikipedia)


This specimen is a female. Also known as "cow killer" and "red velvet ant."

No species ID suggestions


Aaron_G 4 years ago

I hate that this animal was photographed in a plastic dish, but these girls DO NOT stop for anything in the field. They are always a challenging subject and I staged this just to get a clear photo.

Nicholas4 4 years ago

Consider it for the "Animals with warning colors" mission.

Nicholas4 4 years ago

Wow! Amazing spotting!

Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA

Lat: 36.15, Long: -95.99

Spotted on Jul 19, 2011
Submitted on Jan 8, 2012

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