Dasymutilla occidentalis (Hymenoptera: Aculeata: Vespoidea: Mutillidae). Veteran's Memorial Park, Prince William County, VA 11 October 2012
These are hard to photograph because they run, run, run.
Habitat: diverse hardwood bottomland forest, just 5mi E of the Mississippi river.
Is this a velvet ant? It does look like a wasp, but I've never seen a velvet ant with an orange thorax and head as well as abdomen.
Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve
Orange County, California
5 July 2013
The genus Dasymutilla belongs to the Mutillidae family. The females of the genus are well known for their painful sting, which is where many gain their common name, Cow Killer. The female is wingless and often resemble large ants while the males still retain their wings. The larva of the Dasymutilla are external parasites to various types of hymenoptera. When disturbed the Dasymutilla makes a high-pitched squeaking sound identical to the Pogonomyrmex (Harvester ant).