L=up to 1" (25mm). The many species resemble extremely hairy ants,
but are actually wasps. Most are aposematically
colored in bright, memorable colors including black, red, yellow,
and white. Females are wingless and males have wings.
NATURAL HISTORY: Adults feed on nectar and pollen; larvae feed on burrowing
bee and burrowing wasp larvae and pupae. Females search the ground until
they find a burrow of a wasp or bee (host). They enter the burrow, and
search for host larvae that have completed feeding or have pupated.
Once found, the female velvet ant will lay an egg in the cell conaining
the larva/pupa and close the cell back up. After hatching, the velvet
ant larva feeds on the host's larva or pupa and then pupates itself
into an adult that emerges to carry on the tradition.
Warning: velvet ants have the longest stinger of any stinging wasp (ASDM
2000) and the sting is painful.