The Velvet Ant BLog
Lots of folks write in with their questions and
observations, so we have decided to try and publish them for all to see.
Here is a start...
Sent: Thursday, September 10, 2009 8:10 PM
Subject: recent cow killer sighting
I've been in Florida for 30 years and I saw my
first red velvet ant today. a friend of mine was pulling weeds from around
an oak tree in her junkyard in Pasco when I saw it crawl away. it was 1" or
more. being a carpenter i am a fairly good judge
of measurement. I didn't think that they grew this big but one of her
employees said he had killed them much bigger. my concern after
reading your site is not the ant but what ever she was feeding on. if she
was there, there has to be something right?
thanks for any additional info,
On Fri, Sep 11, 2009 at 8:00 AM, Marnie Hutcheson
The females are laying their eggs just now.
Somewhere she has a burro. She eats an enormous amount of insects, I think
grass hoppers are their favorites, but they also like beetles and maybe
spiders. You shouldn't kill them. We have noticed that the ants (especially
the fire ants) stay away from their burros.
I have been watching the males (also red and black,
but nowhere near as big as the females) bring grasshoppers to their burros
in my barn. They like sandy soil for their burros. He drags the
grasshopper down the hole and heads out immediately for more. She comes out
only rarely. I am not sure if she ever comes out after she teams up
with a mate. -- She is busy laying eggs in those grasshoppers, and digging
new burros. I could be wrong, but we have seen both males and females at
I wish I knew more about them. They have been
nesting in the sand in the center aisle and the north end of my barn for
years, we are used to their burros, but it was only this year that I was
able to observe the velvet ants and their activities.
I am really chaffing about the "cow-killer" moniker.
These are polite and shy, beneficial insects who mind their own business
and only become aggressive if they are threatened. Their bite is no more
painful than other wasps, and they are loners. I have small hive wasps in
my woods that swarm their victims when angered; they do some serious damage
to anyone, human, animal, or insect, who crosses their path. I had a
surveyor attacked by them on my preserve. He wound up in the hospital;
covered in bites; poor guy.