University of Florida

Velvet Ants

With their bright and fuzzy bodies, velvet ants are unmistakable visitors in Southern yards. These red and black striped insects are usually seen in lawns, pastures, or other areas with sandy soil. They can be up to an inch long, so they're fairly easy to spot.

Technically, velvet ants aren't ants at all. They're actually wasps. The females don't have wings though, so they look like more like ants. The females are also capable of delivering a painful sting, so velvet ants are sometimes called "cow killers."

But these solitary insects aren't aggressive and will generally avoid contact with humans. If you spot one of these colorful creatures scampering through your landscape, your best bet is to leave it be and let it walk on by.

UF/IFAS Sites

UF/IFAS Publications

Also on Gardening in a Minute

Other Sites