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Red velvet ant or Cow Killer Ant

Dasymutilla occidentalis (Linnaeus)


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.


Mouthparts are for chewing. Lone females can be found crawling on the ground, particularly in open sandy areas. Adults are most common during the warm summer months. Larvae are solitary, external parasites of developing bumble bees.


The cow killer ant. It gets it nickname because it would sometimes sting a cow's tongue. The tongue would get so swollen that the cow in some cases would suffocate to death.

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RosalieLandt 10 years ago


RickBohler 10 years ago

HA HA HA HA....... thanks for the clarification :)

RosalieLandt 10 years ago'd be a bull ...and since she didn't actually kill you you must not be a cow. :) (so no, I guess you're not a cow) hee hee

RickBohler 10 years ago

So if this is a "cow killer ant" Rosalie did you just call me a cow? (lol)

RosalieLandt 10 years ago

ouch is right... Glad she didn't get you!

RickBohler 10 years ago

Thanks pamsai :)

pamsai 10 years ago

wow, that's some stinger! great series...

RickBohler 10 years ago

no ....... she was showing where she keeps her stinger. :) check out this shot (by other) of the stinger....OUCH!

RosalieLandt 10 years ago

Oh Wow! She is showing you her stinger in the last shot! Beautiful series Rick.

RickBohler 10 years ago

WOW! Thanks for all the compliments. it made my day :) You should see behind the scenes of me holding a stick and this girl quickly running up and down it as I am constantly switching hands (not wanting to get stung) and picking up and putting down my heavy camera. it really is something to see.
FYI: I try to never hurt anything I photographic.

Tiz 10 years ago

Thank you, not only for the great pictures, but also for taking the time to write some very interersting facts :)
BR Tina

naross 10 years ago

Wow, excellent series, Rick. Beautiful photos with awesome clarity. Didn't know there were wingless wasps either... until now. Thanks for the description :-)

Josh Asel
Josh Asel 10 years ago

great pictures Rick!

LaurenZarate 10 years ago

Wonderful series of pictures. What athletic prowess she has!

CariRitzenthaler 10 years ago

You have an amazing camera! These are awesome photos!

Great series!

Spotted by

Jacksonville, Florida, USA

Spotted on May 25, 2013
Submitted on May 25, 2013

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