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Red Velvet Ant

Dasymutilla occidentalis


These insects are wasps, not ants. Females are wingless and covered with dense hair, superficially resembling ants. The red velvet-ant is the largest velvet-ant species, reaching about 3/4 inch in length. They are black overall with patches of dense orange-red hair on the thorax and abdomen. Males are similar but have wings and can not sting.


Found in my yard. These are a yearly occurrence and much welcomed!


Females seek the immature stages of ground-nesting bees, digging to the nesting chambers and eating a hole through the cocoon. She deposits and egg on the host larva, which soon hatches into a white legless grub. The immature velvet-ant eats the host larva, developing through several larval stages before forming a pupa.

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40 Comments (1–25)

RickBohler 8 years ago

AWESOME spotting, Please consider sharing this in "Intense Bees and Wasps" mission.

Austin Jacobs
Austin Jacobs 9 years ago

Very cool. Great photos.

Jellyfishnebula 9 years ago


LisaPowers 9 years ago

Thanks harsuame and vipin.baliga!

Wilsons 9 years ago

You have to annoy them a bit to get them going. :) just dont get stung!

LisaPowers 9 years ago

How very odd. I have never heard one do that before.

harsuame 9 years ago

Woww sensacional::

vipin.baliga 9 years ago

Incredible find...!!!

LisaPowers 9 years ago

Thanks Leana, Tamir, Karen and matimar! They are not really aggressive toward humans. Since the females cannot fly, you have to be hurting them or handling them. They will readily sting under those circumstances.

Congratulations Lisa!

Tamir 9 years ago

Cool photo!

Karen Hileman
Karen Hileman 9 years ago

I see these occasionally along a hiking trail. Are they aggressive towards people and do they bite/sting us?
Beautiful picture!

LisaPowers 9 years ago

Sergio: LOL, thanks!

Sergio Monteiro
Sergio Monteiro 9 years ago

Way to go, Lisa. Show them who is the boss! :-)

LisaPowers 9 years ago

Thanks everyone! This is my first good macro...they dart around very quickly.

NuwanChathuranga 9 years ago

Congratulations Lisa !

tibiprada 9 years ago

Beautiful :-)

YurianaMartínez 9 years ago

so elegant!

jakewade97 9 years ago

When I was younger I use to catch these things all the time.

Ashish Nimkar
Ashish Nimkar 9 years ago

Just want to say... Super Ant- Super spotting- Super Organism and Super SOTD.... Congrats Lisa... These tiny wonderful creatures are great teachers to us Humans... Nicely captured details....Congratulations...!!

Maria dB
Maria dB 9 years ago

Congratulations on your SOTD, Lisa!

Gerardo Aizpuru
Gerardo Aizpuru 9 years ago

Wow this is fantastic congratulations Lisa :):)

moxyrobot 9 years ago

Awesome shot! i didn't know velvet ants did that.

LarsKorb 9 years ago

Congrats, Lisa. Great capture.

Spotted by

Tennessee, USA

Spotted on Aug 3, 2012
Submitted on Aug 5, 2012

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