Where Do Eastern Red Velvet Ants Live in Ocklawaha, FL? Is this Ant Poisonous or Venomous?

There are about 12,500 different insect species known to inhabit Central Florida today. The Eastern Velvet Ant is native to the Eastern United States and are known to have the fourth most painful sting in the insect sting pain index! Known by the formal name Dasymutilla Occidentalis, an adult will measure to about ¾ of an inch and are black all over with red or orange patterning on the dorsal surface of their abdomens and thorax. The males have wings and do not sting; however, the females do not have wings and are therefore often mistaken for a true ant species.

Cow Killer Sting Pain

Eastern red velvet ants deliver an incredibly painful sting that can cause 30 minutes of grueling agony! Also dubbed “Cow Killers” because of the intensity of their sting, it is thought that the pain they cause is enough to kill a cow. Females have inch long stingers that penetrate the skin of people or animals that they perceive as a threat. The venom from an Eastern red velvet ant is only mildly toxic but as with any insect bite or sting, there is the risk of a serious allergic reaction. These pests are normally found in meadows, or at the edge of a forest but can occasionally make their way near our homes. They are known to be most active in late Spring to early Fall when they come out to breed and feed. They invade the nest of bees or other similar pests and lay their eggs in the bee’s hive or nest. When their eggs hatch, they then begin to feed on the bee’s young. Gruesome yet intelligent isn’t it?

Eastern Red Velvet Ant Defense Mechanisms

When looking for food or a place to nest, females will crawl along the ground rapidly making it known to nearby males that they are searching for a mate. The males will then fly low to the ground hovering over the area the female is occupying to search for a mate. The Eastern velvet ant species is a solitary insect and therefore does not live in hives or colonies. Though it is rare for one of these pests to get eaten by a predator due to their hard bodies and painful sting, when threatened, a female does have a few defensive strategies to scare away oncoming predators such as:
-Displaying bright warning colors.
-Chemical excretion (venom)
-Females will run away quickly and evasively
-Females let out a squeaking noise to distract the threat
-Males are at an advantage because they have wings and can simply fly away.

Ant Control

While they are super interesting, it is best to stay away from these guys. If you would like to see the damage Eastern red velvet ants can cause, look up the Schmidt sting pain index! There are various ways to eliminate the presence of these dangerous pests; none of which Pest911 recommends going at alone. If you see one of these ants around your place of work or home, get away quickly and call Pest911 as quickly as possible. Our experienced technicians are trained in all areas of pest control and have unique and effective ways to control and eliminate all your pest problems!

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