Thursday, November 27, 2014

Eastern velvet ant

Velvet ants such as the Eastern velvet ant (Dasymutilla occidentalis) are actually wasps.  As solitary wasp, the velvet ant does not live in colonies. The females are wingless and are sometimes mistaken for a large, hairy, orange and black ant. They are found crawling through lawns, digging around soil, or even in garages where they have wandered in by accident.

Velvet ants are not aggressive and will try to escape from you. However, the females have a very painful sting if handled. The name "Cow Killer Ant" was given to the velvet ant because of the reputation of the female's sting. It is said that the sting is so painful that it could kill a cow. This is of course not true.

This handsome insect does make a sound (especially when stepped on) but the squeaks of the cow killer ant would hardly be heard over the painful screams, if the person stepping on the wasp was barefoot.

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