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.