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“Velvet Ant” ‘cow killer’ it has powerful and venomous sting can even kill cow

The name velvet ant is deceptive because this species originally belongs to the category of wasps.

Since the female velvet ant does not possess wings, it looks like ants and that justifies the name.

One of these species is also referred to as a ‘cow killer‘ because it has a powerful and venomous sting that can even kill a cow.

The velvet ant (Dasymutilla occidentalis) belongs to the family of Mutillidae and order Hymenoptera and is not a typical pest.

Velvet ants are found all over the world but the category of cow killer is mostly found in Nebraska while the red velvet ants are found in the United States.

The females are wingless and have vibrant color and fuzzy hair on their bodies while the males are larger in size, have wings, and look like ordinary wasps.

Both of them have a hard exoskeleton and possess a thorax and abdomen, making them indestructible wasps.

Another fact about the female velvet ants is the painful sting it is capable of giving if you try to touch or step on them.


The velvet ant bite is usually very painful but is not fatal. The females run on the grounds of an open field during the hot summer months while the males prefer to reside on flowers.

Usually, ants are social but these species are solitary wasps. The males and females have strikingly different features and therefore it is always difficult to tell whether they’re the same species. Read on to learn more about these wasps.

Velvet ants are from the family Mutillidae with females having fuzzy hair all over their bodies, thus deriving the name ‘velvet‘.

One of their basic features is the exoskeleton they possess along with a thorax and abdomen.


The female velvet ant is quite large in size and is brightly colored in the shade of yellow and brown or red and black.

A velvet ant stinger can give its threat an excruciating sting.

Females do not have any wings and runs on the ground while the males are larger in size, have transparent wings, and look like ordinary wasps.

Both females and males have a strong outer shell and are surprisingly strong.


The velvet ant size is 0.2-0.8 in (6-20 mm) while a common ant ranges from 0.03–2 in (0.7 to 52 mm). So a common ant is about two times bigger than a velvet ant.

According to the study, velvet ants (Dasymutilla occidentalis) can run at a speed of 0.3 mph (0.5 kph).

Adult velvet ants only survive by consuming nectar from flowers along with larvae and other insects like bees and wasps, flies, and beetles.

Velvet ants’ larvae and cocoons are consumed by the young ones.