How Bad Is The Velvet Ant Sting? Does it Pain?

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Red velvet ants, also called cow killer ants, are a type of ant notorious for their painful sting. How bad is the velvet ant sting? Does it pain? Red velvet ants are a species of wasp closely related to the ant.

They get their name from their body’s red and black coloration, similar to the velvet fabric. The females are capable of stinging, while the males cannot. These insects are found in many parts of North America. The best warning is to walk away; fighting it is ineffective.

Continue reading to find out more about velvet ants and their stings

What does a cow killer velvet ant species look like? (Life, Eggs, Exoskeleton, Colour, Food, Home, Wasp Species)

Parasitoid wasp (Mutilla europaea) isolated on a white background

The velvet ant is so named because it resembles a small, soft-bodied teddy bear. They get their common name, “cow killer,” because they can deliver a powerful sting. 

Velvet ants are wasps and members of the family Mutillidae. They have long, slender antennae and a slender waist. The colours of their exoskeleton tend to be brown-black with a blue or green hue.

Velvet ants are usually reddish-brown, and their wings are transparent with occasional brown shading. They range from one inch to three inches in size.

Interestingly, the velvet ant is not an ant but a wasp. They are closely related to ground-nesting bees and bumblebees.

This wasp undergoes a metamorphosis process with four stages: white egg, velvet ant larvae, pupa, and adult. They are commonly found in wooded areas of the southeastern United States.

The velvet ant is a large, hairy insect often mistaken for a wasp. Velvet ants live in abandoned rodent burrows or under rocks. Female velvet ants look like giant wingless wasps.

The wasp nest is found at the base of plants such as roses and blackberry bushes or under the background of loose bark.

Male velvet ants are smaller than females and have wings. They can also be found in the host’s house, where the ants service is in backyard flowers, yard, human body parts, and such areas.

The velvet ant is considered a type of wasp found in the United States. They are black with orange markings, and the males and females look very different. The female velvet ants are known for their powerful stings.

Do velvet ants sting as some form of defence system?

Female velvet ants, also known as cow killers, can sting. The venom from their sting is potent and painful.

If you are ever stung by one, you should never try to handle the ant because of the danger of being stung again. Red velvet ant stings are like wasp stings where as female ants have the stinger.

Though velvet ants are not aggressive by nature, they will sting if they feel threatened signals. If you are walking barefoot in an area where these wasps are known to be found, it is best to avoid doing so.

If you are allergic to insects, a sting from a velvet ant could cause a severe reaction. Most insects will try to run away from you when they sense danger; however, the velvet ant will attack.

Unlike other wasps, velvet ants live in colonies and are not aggressive. They only sting humans if they feel threatened. Velvet ant stings are not as painful as honey bee or yellow jacket stings and usually go away within a few hours.

What does a velvet ant sting look like?

A velvet ant sting can look like several things depending on the person. For some, it may just be mild swelling or redness. However, it can result in extreme pain and even an allergic reaction for others.

The question of the severity of the symptoms will depend on the person’s sensitivity to the venom and how much venom is injected.

When someone is stung by a velvet ant, it depends on the person’s reaction. Some people feel nothing but pain, while others have more severe allergic reactions.

How Bad is the Velvet Ant Sting? Does it Pain like a wasp sting?

how bad is the velvet ant sting

Insects use their stings as a defense mechanism and can deliver varying pain levels. The Western honeybee scores 1.5 on the pain scale, and the thistledown velvet ant scores 2, making it one of the more painful stinging insects.

Interestingly, pain seems to vary depending on the species of velvet ant. For example, while some people report very little pain from being stung by a velvet ant, others find the experience excruciating. Unlike social wasps, velvet ants are solitary creatures that do not live in colonies.

The velvet ant is a large, black, hairy insect that you don’t want to mess with. These animals are usually docile, but they can sting if you pick them up. 

Velvet ant sting treatment

If a velvet ant stings you, you can do a few things to treat the sting. If you have allergic reactions, it is important to seek medical attention. If you don’t have any allergies, you can try these two DIY solutions:

  • Apply a baking soda paste and water to the affected area.
  • Soak a cloth in white vinegar and apply it to the area for about 15 minutes.
  • You can also use table salt to treat the sting. Pour some salt on your palm, and mix it with water to make a paste. Apply the paste to the sting for a few minutes until the pain subsides.
  • One of the most common ways to treat a velvet ant sting is to use an ice cube. Applying ice will help to slow the blood flow and reduce both the pain and swelling.

Red velvet ants, also known as cow killers, are solitary insects you’re most likely to find in the southwestern United States.

Although they can be aggressive if provoked or threatened, they don’t generally sting humans. If you are stung, there are various home remedies you can try to ease the pain.

How to kill red velvet ants (Cow killer ants)?

How to kill red velvet ants (Cow killer ants)?

Red velvet ants are a type of ant that is not an ant. They are closely related to wasps and can be very dangerous. In fighting a regular ant invasion, you can use pesticides or traps.

However, it is important to use caution when dealing with velvet ants as they can sting, and their venom is potent.

Velvet ants are distinguished from other ants because they have a thick hair coat on their body. One should not use typical methods to fight velvet ants as they will only aggravate the situation.

Velvet ants carry their food back to the colony, and once the food is gone, the colony dies. Velvet ants are solitary insects, and killing one will not make much of a dent in their population.

Although red velvet ants are not as common as some other ants, they can still be a nuisance. They often do not live near people, but there are a few ways to fight them if you encounter them.

You can spray individual ants with insecticide, step on them, or try to track down the nest and destroy it.

While they are not aggressive and usually do not sting unless provoked. Red velvet ants can be a major nuisance if they invade your property. Garden centers will carry pesticides or wasp spray that effectively kills red velvet ants.

Remember that these insects live in holes, so it is necessary to apply the pesticide or spray it directly into the hole for best results.

Are velvet ants dangerous predators wasps?

The velvet ant is a large, reddish-brown wasp that can be quite dangerous to other bees and wasps. They are known to attack bumblebees or other beehives, and their sting is said to be one of the most painful insects.

The velvet ant is a very dangerous insect. The sting is incredibly painful, and if threatened, they may sting in defense. Velvet ants are often misnamed because of their close resemblance to ants.

Are velvet ants poisonous?

The velvet ant is mostly found in North America. While they are not poisonous, their sting is incredibly painful. The venom of the red velvet ant is especially potent and can cause a reaction that is ten times worse than a typical wasp or bee sting.

If you are attacked by one of these insects, it is best to seek medical attention immediately.

Can a red velvet ant kill you?

Red velvet ants couldn’t kill humans. While their sting may be painful, it is not lethal. However, people can get allergic reactions from their stings. The venom of the red velvet ant is only mildly toxic and does not usually cause death in humans.


The velvet ant is so named because of the soft, velvety hairs on its back. Unlike most ants, they do not create colonies or nests. Velvet ants can be identified by their bright colors; they come in various colors, including red, yellow, black, and white.

Despite their name, velvet ants are not ants at all – they are wasps! The sting of a red velvet ant is like an electric shock. In most cases, they will avoid human contact if not provoked. 

About the author

A biotechnologist by profession and a passionate pest researcher. I have been one of those people who used to run away from cockroaches and rats due to their pesky features, but then we all get that turn in life when we have to face something.