Pest Away Tips

7 Essential Tips for Dealing with Red Velvet Ants and Their Painful Sting

Red Velvet Ants: The Facts You Need to Know

Red and velvety with striking white markings, red velvet ants aren’t your ordinary ants. Many people mistake them for some kind of wasp or hornet – and for good reason.

Red velvet ants, scientifically known as Mutillidae, belong to the Hymenoptera order and shared features with their wasp cousins. But what sets them apart is the painful sting that earned them the nickname “cow killers.” While red velvet ants aren’t lethal to cows or humans, their sting is potent enough to cause excruciating pain that can last for hours.

Are you wondering how to get rid of these red velvet ants in your yard or garden? In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about these unusual insects, from their characteristics to their diet and harmful effects.

We’ll also delve into tried-and-tested methods for getting rid of red velvet ants once and for all.

Characteristics of Red Velvet Ants

Red velvet ants are solitary insects that range in size from to inches long. The males have wings and can fly, while females are wingless.

These insects’ bright coloration is a vivid warning to predators that they are toxic and shouldn’t be messed with. As already mentioned, red velvet ants belong to the Hymenoptera order and share similarities with wasps.

However, they are not true ants. Unlike ants, red velvet ants don’t live in colonies, and each female digs her nest in the soil.

Getting Rid of Red Velvet Ants

If you’re dealing with an infestation of red velvet ants, you may want to know how to get rid of them. There are various ways to eliminate these wasp-like ants, depending on how severe the infestation is.

Using Insecticides

Insecticides are ideal for dealing with severe infestations of red velvet ants. Some of the most effective insecticides for killing red velvet ants include Spectracide HG-95715 Wasp & Hornet Killer, Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer, Raid Multi Insect Killer, Harris Diatomaceous Earth Crawling Insect Killer, and BIOADVANCED 700280B Complete Insect Killer.

Before using any insecticides, ensure that you read the instructions carefully and follow them to the letter to avoid harming yourself, pets, or beneficial insects. Also, be aware that insecticides can harm the environment and non-target organisms, so use them only as a last resort.

Using Repellents

Repellents are an effective way to keep red velvet ants away from your property. Some of the most potent natural repellents include pepper, cinnamon, white vinegar, citrus fruits, coffee grounds, and mint.

Sprinkle these repellents around your property, especially around entry points like doors and windows. You can also make a spray using white vinegar and water and apply it around your property.

Using Bait Traps

Bait traps are another effective way to get rid of red velvet ants. You can make homemade bait traps using borax, cornmeal, and sugar.

These ingredients are toxic to red velvet ants, and they’ll carry it back to their nest, killing their entire colony. Another effective method is to use boric acid.

Mix boric acid with sugar and water to make a spray and apply it around your home. The ants will ingest the boric acid, which will kill them within a few days.

Rarity and Habitat

Red velvet ants are rare insects that are mostly found in pastures, open fields, and sandy soil. They are mostly active during the warm season, with peak activity in June and July.

Diet of Red Velvet Ants

Red velvet ants feed on nectar and water, but the females rely on larvae, pupae, and cocoons of other insects to nourish themselves.

Harmful Effects of Red Velvet Ants

Red velvet ants can cause harm to pets and humans, primarily through their stings. Female red velvet ants are the ones that sting, and their venom contains a mixture of amines, enzymes, small peptides, serotonin, acetylcholine receptors, and histamine.

Red velvet ant stings often lead to hypersensitivity reactions, and the symptoms include intense pain, swelling, redness, and anaphylaxis in rare cases. If you notice these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

Final Thoughts

Red velvet ants are fascinating insects that are often mistaken for wasps. While they are not harmful to humans or cows, their sting is painful and can cause severe reactions in some people.

If you’re dealing with an infestation of red velvet ants, it’s crucial to get rid of them as soon as possible using baits, sprays, and repellents. Remember to read the instructions on all insecticides carefully and take precautions to protect yourself, pets, and beneficial insects.

Treating Red Velvet Ant Stings: What You Need to Do

Red velvet ants belong to the family Mutillidae and are related to bees, wasps, and hornets. Their bright red and black coloration makes them stand out in the crowd, but their painful sting can cause harm.

Known as “cow killers,” they are not fatal to cows or humans but can be quite painful. When red velvet ants feel threatened, they release their venomous sting and cause an intense burning sensation that can last for up to an hour.

If you’ve been stung by a red velvet ant, it’s essential to act fast to relieve the pain and prevent further irritation. Here’s what you need to do to treat red velvet ant stings:

Clean the Wound

The first step in treating a red velvet ant sting is to clean the wound. Wash it with clean water or soap and water, then sterilize the area with hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol.

This step reduces the risk of infection.

Apply Ice or Cold Compresses

After cleaning the wound, apply ice or a cold compress to the affected area. Cold compresses will help reduce swelling and provide temporary pain relief.

You can use an ice pack, a bag of frozen peas, or a cloth soaked in cold water.


Salt is an excellent home remedy that can relieve the pain and swelling of red velvet ant stings. Dampen the area around the sting with a little water and apply table salt to the wound.

Leave the salt on for 10-20 minutes, then rinse with water.

Herbal remedies

Broadleaf plantain, bee balm leaf, and lavender essential oil are all-natural remedies for treating red velvet ant stings. Crush broadleaf plantain and bee balm leaf into a paste and apply to the wound, or use lavender essential oil directly on the skin.

These remedies can help reduce pain and inflammation and may also provide some relief from itching.

Take Antihistamine Drugs

For severe allergic reactions, take an antihistamine drug like Benadryl or Zyrtec. These drugs work by blocking the action of histamine, a chemical responsible for the allergic reaction.

Be sure to follow the drug’s dosing instructions carefully.

Seek Medical Attention

If you experience severe pain, swelling, or difficulty breathing after being stung by a red velvet ant, seek medical attention immediately. Severe allergic reactions can be life-threatening and require urgent medical attention.

Final Thoughts

Red velvet ants can be a nuisance, and their painful stings can cause significant discomfort. If you get stung, clean and sanitize the area immediately, apply ice or cold compresses to reduce swelling, and try some home remedies like salt or herbal remedies.

If your symptoms persist after trying these remedies, seek medical attention right away to avoid serious complications. Remember, prevention is better than cure, so avoid disturbing red velvet ants if at all possible.

In conclusion, red velvet ants are unique insects that require careful handling and proper management. While they may be fascinating to observe, their painful stings can cause serious discomfort and allergic reactions.

It’s important to take necessary precautions, such as using repellents and insecticides, to keep them away from your home and garden. In the event of a sting, proper treatment, such as cleaning the area and applying cold compresses or natural remedies, can help relieve pain and prevent infection.

By understanding the characteristics and behaviors of red velvet ants, you can keep yourself, your family, and your pets safe from potential harm.

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