Cow killer ants, often called velvet ants, live in open, sunny areas like lawns, gardens, pastures, and non-shaded areas of forests. These red and black colored insects are wasps , not true ants , and they attack bumblebee hives and other insect nests to lay their eggs. Cow killer ants don't usually infest homes but can accidentally wander into buildings. These insects do not cause damage and the males of the species do not sting, but females have a very toxic sting that can be extremely painful. Cow killers do not actually kill cows.
Velvet ants bristle with weapons and are almost invincible
Mutillidae - Wikipedia
Today I saw a Cow Killer as I weeded in my bare feet. I called for mister gardener to quickly bring me my camera because the insect moves fast. Named Red Velvet Ant for the fine layer of hairs on the body, it is also called Cow Killer for the venomous punch it packs when it stings. Actually, it is not an ant at all but one of the species of Velvet Ant parasitic wasps in North America. The winged male does not sting but the wingless female, usually nocturnal, wanders the flower garden dining on nectar while searching for the tunnels of ground-nesting wasps, especially the cicada wasp.
One unusual insect that is occasionally seen running around open areas in the yard during July, August, and September is the velvet ant. Velvet ants look like large hairy ants, but they are actually wasps. They differ from ants in having only a slight constriction between the thorax and abdomen and having straight rather than elbowed antennae. They may be seen in lawns or pastures, or occasionally wandering into buildings.
The Mutillidae are a family of more than 3, species of wasps whose wingless females resemble large, hairy ants. Their common name velvet ant refers to their dense pile of hair, which most often is bright scarlet or orange, but may also be black, white, silver, or gold. Black and white specimens are sometimes known as panda ants due to their hair coloration resembling that of the giant panda.