Velvet Ants

Pseudomethoca simillima Cow-killer Pseudomethoca simillima

What are they?

Though they look like ants, velvet ants are actually more closely related to the wasps than to ants. Males are winged, but females are unwinged and are often found running actively across the ground. Velvet Ant females can and do sting readily so these creatures are best kept at arm's length. Females lay their eggs in the nests of ground-nesting wasps and bees, where the young parasitize the larvae of the host species


Most species are covered in velvety hairs, though some are almost hairless. The color of the hairs and especially the distribution of color in red-and-black species will identify most individuals.

Cow-killer      Dasymutilla occidentalis

Length 15-18mm. A common and widespread species, most often found in open, sandy areas, but occasionally elsewhere. Females are frequently seen roaming rapidly and seemingly randomly over the ground. Males are less often seen, but may be found nectaring at flowers on occasion; they have blackish wings.
Cow-killer Cow-killer Cow-killer

     Pseudomethoca simillima

A common and widespread species, which is most often seen roaming across open, sandy ground in search of prey.
Pseudomethoca simillima Pseudomethoca simillima Pseudomethoca simillima