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Flowers, Fruits, and Frass

Local and statewide information on a variety of current topics for home gardeners and market growers.
velvet ant

Velvet Ants

Posted by Kelly Allsup - Bugs

Recently, many have been fascinated with the sight of a brightly colored velvet ants (Dasynatill sp.) running across their lawns or through their gardens. These are technically not ants but solitary wasps. They have straight antennae and not the elbowed antennae of ants. Velvet ants can be red or black, fuzzy and have a velvety appearance. Velvet ants appear in your garden during the months of July, August and September to prey on ground nesting bees and wasps. When disturbed, they have an audible stidilation that sounds like squeaking. Both the winged males and wingless females will deliver a painful sting when handled.

The velvet ants invade the nest of bees and wasps by laying their eggs on larval and pupating stages. The larvae of the velvet ant feed on the wasps and bees. One of their most common preys is the cocoons of the cicada killer (Specius speciosus).

The University of Illinois does not recommend chemical control of velvet ants because they are solitary and treatment is not needed. Cultural methods of preventing ground nesting bees and wasps like planting ground covers, turf and utilizing mulch can prevent these insects from visiting your garden. Please visit Flowers, Fruits and Frass Horticulture blog at for more garden insect information from the University of Illinois Extension office serving Livingston, McLean and Woodford Counties. Special thanks to the University of Kentucky Agriculture Website for image.

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