Fun Velvet Ant Facts For Kids | Kidadl


Fun Velvet Ant Facts For Kids

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The name velvet ant is deceptive because this species originally belongs to the category of wasps. Since the female velvet ant does not possess wings, it looks like ants and that justifies the name. One of these species is also referred to as a 'cow killer' because it has a powerful and venomous sting that can even kill a cow. The velvet ant (Dasymutilla occidentalis) belongs to the family of Mutillidae and order Hymenoptera and is not a typical pest. Velvet ants are found all over the world but the category of cow killer is mostly found in Nebraska while the red velvet ants are found in the United States. The females are wingless and have vibrant color and fuzzy hair on their bodies while the males are larger in size, have wings, and look like ordinary wasps. Both of them have a hard exoskeleton and possess a thorax and abdomen, making them indestructible wasps. Another fact about the female velvet ants is the painful sting it is capable of giving if you try to touch or step on them. The velvet ant bite is usually very painful but is not fatal. The females run on the grounds of an open field during the hot summer months while the males prefer to reside on flowers. Usually, ants are social but these species are solitary wasps. The males and females have strikingly different features and therefore it is always difficult to tell whether they're the same species. Read on to learn more about these wasps.

If you like reading about velvet ant facts, you may also like our solitary bees and Hercules beetle facts.

Fun Velvet Ant Facts For Kids

What do they prey on?

Nectar, insect larvae, other insects

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

1-2 eggs

How much do they weigh?

1-5 mg

How long are they?

0.2-0.8 in (6-20 mm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Red and black, yellow and brown

Skin Type

Velvety fur

What were their main threats?

Reptiles, Mammals, Small Birds, Amphibians

What is their conservation status?

Not Listed

Where you'll find them?

Open Fields And Gardens











Velvet Ant Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a velvet ant?

A velvet ant is an insect that falls under the phylum of the arthropod.

What class of animal does a velvet ant belong to?

These species belong to the class of Insecta. They are also known as cow killers because of the rumor that these stinging insects can kill a cow.

How many velvet ants are there in the world?

There are about 8000 species of velvet ant (cow killer) in the world out of which 800 species reside in North America. However, the exact population of the species is not known.

Where does a velvet ant live?

The velvet ant location is all over the world. They are found in wetlands, forests, and urban areas and usually in areas where their host species live since they are parasitic animals.

What is a velvet ant's habitat?

The velvet ant habitat is spread throughout the globe. They thrive in wetlands, woods as well as urban lands. Some of them, such as the red velvet ant, are found throughout the United States, but especially in arid areas, and another category of the 'cow killer' is found in Nebraska. Velvet ants, usually, are parasitic and can be found where their host species exist. Host species are wasps and bumblebees. Among them, red velvet ants like open spaces such as parks, meadows, and even lawns.

Who do velvet ants live with?

Unlike other social ants, velvet ants are solitary wasps. They prefer to be on their own and do not have a hive.

How long does a velvet ant live?

A red velvet ant lives for less than a year.

How do they reproduce?

In an attempt to mate and find prospective female velvet ants, the adult male velvet ant flies low to the ground to detect pheromones released by females. After mating, the males leave and the females being parasitic in nature, wander around and try to lay their eggs in the ground-nesting of bumblebees and wasps to ensure the security of their larvae. Once she finds a suitable nest, she chews a hole and invades it and lays her eggs in the pupa of the host, and then leaves the nest forever by filling the hole with some mud. The eggs turn into larvae. They hatch soon and eat the host. Afterward, they disguise themselves in self-spun cocoons throughout the winter season in the same nest and then become adults in the spring.

What is their conservation status?

The species of velvet ants are Not Listed by the IUCN Red List (International Union for Conservation of Nature). It is very difficult to obtain the population of these tiny species that live globally.

Velvet Ant Fun Facts

What do velvet ants look like?

Velvet ants are from the family Mutillidae with females having fuzzy hair all over their bodies, thus deriving the name 'velvet'. One of their basic features is the exoskeleton they possess along with a thorax and abdomen. The female velvet ant is quite large in size and is brightly colored in the shade of yellow and brown or red and black. A velvet ant stinger can give its threat an excruciating sting. Females do not have any wings and runs on the ground while the males are larger in size, have transparent wings, and look like ordinary wasps. Both females and males have a strong outer shell and are surprisingly strong.

Velvet Ant on green leaf

How cute are they?

No, these wasps are not considered cute because of their scary appearance and painful stinger.

How do they communicate?

When they face any threat, both males and females give out a screeching sound to warn about the enemy.

How big is a velvet ant?

The velvet ant size is 0.2-0.8 in (6-20 mm) while a common ant ranges from 0.03–2 in (0.7 to 52 mm). So a common ant is about two times bigger than a velvet ant.

How fast can a velvet ant run?

According to the study, velvet ants (Dasymutilla occidentalis) can run at a speed of 0.3 mph (0.5 kph).

How much does a velvet ant weigh?

A red velvet ant usually weighs 1-5 mg.

What are their male and female names of the species?

The male and female species of velvet ant (cow killer) do not have any specified names.

What would you call a baby velvet ant?

There is no particular name assigned to a baby velvet ant (Dasymutilla occidentalis). They are referred to as larvae.

What do they eat?

Adult velvet ants only survive by consuming nectar from flowers along with larvae and other insects like bees and wasps, flies, and beetles. Velvet ants' larvae and cocoons are consumed by the young ones.

Are they poisonous?

Female velvet ant bites, when they are touched or stepped on, result in excruciating pain but they are not poisonous enough to kill someone. Although, if someone has any kind of allergy to bees or wasps, then the person should see a medical professional. A velvet ant sting is almost similar to a bee sting.

Would they make a good pet?

They will not make good pets because the female adult velvet ants have a basic defense mechanism of stinging if they are touched or stepped on and a velvet ant sting pain is agonizing. Although these wasps, also known as cow killers, are not venomous, it is recommended to not go near them. To get rid of these species, you can use insecticides.

Did you know...

There are many kinds of velvet ants out of which the White velvet ant and Eastern velvet ant are very interesting wasps. White velvet ants have quite long white-colored hair which makes them look like cotton, helping them to deceive its threat while Eastern Velvet ants are the largest velvet ant in the USA. All of them are nocturnal in nature.

Why is the velvet ant called 'cow killer'?

The velvet ant is called a 'cow killer' because there is a rumor that the sting of the female is so agonizing that it can kill a full-grown cow. It is an exaggeration because no cow ever died from a velvet ant sting although it causes severe pain.

Why are velvet ants hard to kill?

The velvet ants have a strong exoskeleton that protects them from potential threats. The legs of the females are powerful enough to push their way out of a predator's mouth. According to a study, to crush a velvet ant, 11 times the force needed to crush a worker honeybee is required.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other arthropods including leafcutter ant, or bombardier beetle.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our velvet ant coloring pages.

Written By
Moumita Dutta

Moumita is a multilingual content writer and editor. She has a PostGraduate Diploma in sports management, which enhanced her sports journalism skills, as well as a degree in journalism and mass communication. She's good at writing about sports and sporting heroes. Moumita has worked with many soccer teams and produced match reports, and sports is her primary passion.

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