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Cow Killer Ant Facts & Information

Protect your home or business from cow killer ants by learning techniques for identification and control.

Cow killer ant illustration
Dasymutilla occidentalis
Wingless females
Winged males
Red & black


How do I get rid of cow killer ants?

What Orkin Does

Since cow killers don't make their own nests or form colonies and do not commonly live in areas frequented by people, control efforts are not normally required.

Your local Orkin Pro is trained to help manage cow killer ants and similar pests. Since every building or home is different, your Orkin Pro will design a unique ant treatment program for your situation.

Orkin can provide the right solution to keep cow killer ants in their place…out of your home, or business.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Behavior, Diet & Habits

Understanding Cow Killer Ants


  • Characteristics: One of the most observable differences between ants and wasps is that ants have elbowed or L-shaped antennae, while wasp antennae are normally straight or C-shaped.

  • Females: The female is wingless, hairy, and colored red and black.

  • Males: The males look similar to the females, except they have two pairs of dark colored wings.


Adults feed on nectar, while the larval stages are parasites of ground bees and wasps.


Their preferred habitats are pastures and the edges of forests. In urban and suburban areas, cow killers are seen crawling through lawn vegetation, digging around in the soil, or perhaps in garages where they have wandered in by accident.

Geographic Range

The range of the cow killer is from the east coast of Florida to Connecticut and westward to Missouri and Texas.


Female cow killer wasps dig into the nests of these bees and wasps, and lay their eggs on the larvae inside the nest. When the eggs hatch, the larvae consume their host, then spit its pupal case on its host.

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