Red Velvet Ant

The red velvet ant, actually a wasp, is an external parasite of ground-nesting bees.
red-velvet-ant

red-velvet-ant

This insect was named for its looks, not for its place in the biological order of critters. The red velvet ant is a striking insect that's a misnomer: It's actually a wasp, not an ant. Dense orange-red hair covers the abdomen and thorax, and the females don't have wings.

Red velvet ants are a good thing to spot in the landscape if you're worried about yellow jackets. Red velvet ants prey on yellow jackets and other ground-nesting bees and wasps by burrowing into their nest, laying an egg in the bee cocoon. The egg hatches into a grub that feeds on the surrounding bee larvae. Red velvet ants also prey on bumblebees. Adult red velvet ants feed on nectar.

These critters aren't aggressive, but the female can deliver a painful sting when disturbed. Males don't sting. The females are occasionally seen in the summer months and are solitary and fairly reclusive. They'll usually quickly run away if they feel threatened.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Red Velvet Cake Recipe

Create a truly extravagant and decadent dessert for any special occasion.

Heritage Red Velvet Cake Recipe

This cake gets its heart shape from a hand-drawn template and serrated knife — no specialty pans required here.

Carpenter Ants

A beneficial insect you'll want to see pack up its tool belt and scram.

Wildlife Wall

Many beneficial garden insects, such as ladybugs and ground beetles, struggle to find habitats in our neat gardens. Consider creating an attractive wildlife wall to lure them in and keep them happy.

Fire Ants Are Trouble

Biting and stinging red imported fire ants (RIFA) can pose serious risks to people and pets.

Plant Trees for Wildlife

Trees provide nesting and roosting sites, a home for insects and other wildlife, and many are a great source of food. Every garden should have one — there are trees to suit any site, no matter how small.

Creating a Wildlife Sanctuary

Cultivating a haven to attract feathered and not-so-feathered friends in your yard can be simple and fun.

1,000+ Photos

Browse beautiful photos of our favorite outdoor spaces: decks, patios, porches and more.

On TV

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.