Velvet Ants – Cow Killers

When VIP Mary was roving near the tidepool area in late June, she came across this attractive bug that she did not recognize. You may know about this insect but she had never seen it before. 

It is called a red velvet ant (Dasymutilla occidentalis) and it is actually a wasp. It has a powerful sting and has been nicknamed “Cow Killer.” It doesn’t kill but does hurt if stung. It did not bother her while she was trying to photograph it.

Here’s another photo of it. This one was taken along the Tidepool Spur trail back in November. We didn’t know what it was then either. It was uploaded to iNaturalist where we learned what a velvet ant was. It is of the genus Dasymutilla or Nocturnal Velvet Ants.

Keep an eye out for these as you are roving. Remember they are fun to look at, but don’t touch it. If you have other information about the velvet ants, leave a comment below.

3 thoughts on “Velvet Ants – Cow Killers

  1. Oooh, creepy. Kinda tarantula-like. Shivers!
    Neat photos of the little creeper. Thanks for the warning!

  2. Did the ant in the November photo make that pattern in the sand?

    Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

    1. Here is what VIP Mary said:

      First of all the photo was taken last month on the path down by the tidepool and this wasp aka velvet ant was crawling over boot tracks. My worry is that people think that this is an ant and may try to pick it up. It is a wasp that can sting several times. It didn’t seem to be aggravated that I was trying to take its picture but it may have stung me if I tried to pick it up. It’s other name is “cowkiller” because of its sting makes you feel like you have been kicked by a cow.

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