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The first time I saw one, my grade school daughters were with me walking down a mountain dirt road in Frazier Park, CA. It was really noticeable because of it's color and it was booking across fast.
I thought " What the fuck kind of ant is that?" I told the girls not to touch it and we went on our way in wonder what it was.
Mutillidae are a family of wasps whose wingless females resemble ants. Their common name velvet ant refers to their dense hair which may be red, black, white, silver, or gold. They are known for their extremely painful sting, facetiously said to be strong enough to kill a cow, hence the common name cow killer or cow ant is applied to some species. [read more at wiki]
The Mutillidae family contains approximately 230 genera/subgenera and about 8,000 species worldwide (Manley and Pitts 2002). Approximately 435 species occur in mostly arid areas of the southern and western parts of North America (Triplehorn and Johnson 2005). Fifty species in seven genera are found in Florida, [read more at this University of Florida link]