Red Velvet Ants could easily be mistaken for Alabama fans sporting a fall sweater in their team color. As the name implies they can also easily be mistaken for ants when they are in fact wasps.
Adult Red Velvet Ants are slightly smaller than an inch, have black legs and undersides with fine dense bright red hair on the head, thorax and abdomen. Females are wingless while males have wings … lucky them.
Because they are solitary and not social insects, one thing you will not see is a tailgating party of Red Velvet Ants. Instead they may be observed individually in forested areas, especially around the base of trees, or in pastures. They may also be observed in lawns with high numbers of cicada killer brood cells.
The female Red Velvet Ant will lay an egg on a larva of a cicada killer or other ground dwelling wasp grub. Upon hatching the Red Velvet Ant larva will eat the larva upon which its egg was laid. Adult Red Velvet Ants, male and female, feed on plant nectar.
If you run across this “Alabama Fan,” best to give her a wide berth, she packs a mean punch. The Red Velvet Ant earned the nickname of "cow killer” due to its painful sting, which only the female can deliver by the way.
Because they are not social insects, don’t form colonies or cause damage, control measures are not necessary. If you should experience a problem with other pests, however, please contact Mr. Bugg’s Pest Patrol today for an evaluation and solution.