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Velvet Ant Wasp

Actual Size: Approximately 3 to 25 mm

Characteristics: Females are fuzzy, black in color with bright red-orange patches.

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: Males hang out on flowers; females invade nests of other solitary wasps or bees.


  • Velvet ants are actually wasps.
  • Females are wingless and deliver an extremely painful sting.
  • Both male and female velvet ants produce a squeaking or chirping sound when alarmed.

Velvet Ant Wasps in Salina

Also called the red velvet ant or cow killer ant, the velvet ant is actually a type of solitary wasp. They get their name due to the fuzzy velvet appearance of females, which are wingless and often brightly colored. Males cannot sting and are harmless, but the females have an extremely painful sting. With that painful sting, tough outer skeleton, and the secretion of foul-smelling chemicals, the velvet ant wasp does not have any predators. Their bright colors signal predators to stay away.

Velvet Ant Wasp Habitat

The velvet ant wasp can often be seen running around open areas in Salina, sometimes erratically, in late summer. They may also be seen in lawns or pastures or wandering into buildings. Velvet ant wasps take over bee and wasp nests in the ground. As a result, it’s difficult to detect velvet ant nests. Males are often found on flowers. Adult velvet ant wasps feed on nectar and water. Although uncommon, velvet ant wasps occasionally enter structures in search of prey.

Velvet Ant Behaviors, Threats, or Dangers

Although velvet ants are docile and rarely come in contact with people, females have a potent venom. Most stings happen when one is accidentally stepped on. In some individuals, stings can result in severe allergic reactions that require immediate medical attention. Parents should educate kids not to handle them or touch velvet ants. If you find yourself dealing with them on your property, be sure to contact your local wasp control experts.

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