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

What Do Ladybugs Eat?

Keep pest problems in check with these adorable garden visitors.

Wheel Bug

A member of the assassin-bug family, the wheel bug is a beneficial insect.

In Defense of Spiders

Learning to love the worldwide webs.

House Centipede

Harmless and even beneficial, this insect can point to other problems in the home.

The Good, the Bad and the Buggy

People often remember the bad and forget the good, and that's especially true about insects.

Eyed Elater

In its earlier life stages, this click beetle is a voracious eater of garden pests.

Kudzu Bugs

These international stowaways are causing problems in American gardens.

Millipedes

These slow-moving critters feed on decaying plant matter and can be found in dark, cozy places.

Invite Dragonflies Into Your Garden

Inviting dragonflies into your garden can provide a lot of magic and fewer mosquitoes.

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.