These fuzzy insects are not actually ants, they are wasps. Also known as “cow-killer ants”, but it’s said cows are rarely stung by these insects. They reach 3/4” in size and are black with fuzzy red-orange hair on their body.

The female red velvet ants are wingless and will dig into the ground where other ground-nesting wasps and bees reside. They do this to lay their eggs on the wasp or bee larvae. When a red velvet ant hatches it goes through several stages before forming a pupa. It eats on the larvae of its host before spinning a cocoon. After emerging from the cocoon, it makes its way to the surface. Females can be seen crawling on the ground while the males, who have wings, fly around.

Female red velvet ants have a stinger that is very painful when stung. Males, on the other hand, do not have stingers but they do have wings and can be found on plants and flowers.

Like some types of wasps, the red velvet ants are found under the solidary classification meaning they are loners and you will find them by themselves rather than in a nesting colony.

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