Eastern velvet ants within the family members Mutillidae (cow killers or velvet ants) are, in fact, no ants in ~ all. Adults are sexually dimorphic wasps, meaning that males and also females look different. Females room wingless and also can be checked out running across grassy fields and open ground. Males room winged and stingless. The stinger of members the the order Hymenoptera is a modification egg laying maker (“ovipositor”), so only females are qualified of stinging. The eastern velvet ant is the biggest velvet ant in the united States, ranging from two-thirds the an customs to 1-inch (15 to 25 mm) in length. The typical name velvet ant originates native the velvety figure of the thick hairs on many of the body. Eastern velvet ant females are red or red orange in shade with a black stripe or patch throughout the abdomen and black legs and antennae. Male eastern velvet ants are similar in shade pattern but are slenderer 보다 females and also possess 2 pairs the dark brown wings. Larvae space pale white and also grublike.

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Adult eastern velvet ants are aposematic, definition they signal their distastefulness. Their bright red color and fuzzy appearance cautions predators to remain away. The cuticle, or exoskeleton, is slippery and rock hard.

The east velvet ant has actually a large continental circulation in the unified States however is most frequently encountered in the eastern half of the U.S. Students often see lock in mulchy locations of the LSU campus during early fall.


Female east velvet ant (Johnny N. Dell,


Male eastern velvet ant (Johnny N. Dell,

Life Cycle

Cow killers room holometabolous insects, meaning they have egg, larva, pupa and also adult life stages. They space brood parasitoids and develop within an insect host the is at some point killed. Adults seek burrows of ground nesting types (e.g., bumblebees, wasps, cicadas and also other insects) and also lay egg on the larvae of these insects. The egg hatch right into larvae the feed top top the host larvae. When completely developed, castle pupate in the host’s brood chamber, overwinter and also emerge as adults the adhering to season. Adults are typically seen in the late summer to early on fall.

Ecological Significance and Pest Status

Cow killers room not taken into consideration pests and role as a natural control for various other bees and wasps. They have to not be touch or handled, however, together their gift is potent and also painful. As soon as threatened, adults emit a buzzing noise (stridulation) and also begin probing through their long, flexible stinger. Females have actually a an effective sting that deserve to be deployed lot of times. The gift is rumored come be powerful enough to death cows, i beg your pardon is, the course, nothing however an metropolitan legend. However, this has end up being the communication for among the typical names.


No manage is needed. Just females deserve to sting, and their coloration renders avoidance easily achieved.

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Brothers, D. J., G. Tschuch, F. Burger. 2000. Associations the mutillidae wasps (Hymenoptera, Mutillidae) v eusocial insects. Insectes Sociaux 47: 201-211.

Schmidt J. O., and also M. S. Blum. 1977. Adaptations and also Responses of Dasymuilla occidentalis (Hymenoptera: Mutillidae) to Predators. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 21: 99-111.