Cow Killer; Velvet Ant
Oak Ridge, TN
August 23, 2008
If you see one of these beautiful insects just look, don't touch! Even though these insects look like large velvety ants, they are actually wingless wasps. The common name "Cow Killer" is a good indication of what a nasty sting this little gal has! I got stung by one when I was a child, so I can attest to their painful sting. The red and black coloring is a good warning that she is dangerous. Like other Hymenoptera (bees, wasps, and ants), only the females can sting. I love telling boys in my classes who have "Hornets" or "Yellowjackets" as a team mascot that their mascot is a girl!!! :) Females lay their eggs in bumble bee nests, the ant larvae eat the bee larvae.
This Velvet Ant was brought to me by my next-door neighbor, Jarod. He had caught her in a Gatorade bottle at his soccer game, I had to wait until she dried out to get this photo! She does have 6 legs, one of them is tucked under her.