Cow Killer or Velvet Ant

Cow Killer

Cow Killer, or velvet ant

For all of you who are afraid of rattlesnakes, copperheads, and spiders of all sorts, you might want to redirect your fear to this tiny creature—a cow killer. It’s not really a cow killer, but that’s the nickname it has earned due to the pain it inflicts with it’s sting. The real name is a velvet ant, and it’s actually a wasp.

Velvet ants are usually found crawling around lawns, digging throuh soil. And they’re hard to miss being spotted due to their bright coloring, despite the fact that they are amazingly fast. I have seen dozens—probably close to a hundred—but I’ve never seen one sitting still. They always are moving fast as if they’re in a hurry to get somewhere.

By the way, like the black widow, it is the female whose bite inflicts so much pain. The male is harmless. Also to note is that in spite of its deadly sounding name, it is non-aggressive, preferring to mind its own business and stay away from contact with other animals. It doesn’t even exhibit the normal behavior of a wasp, as it doesn’t live in a colony.

Here’s a link to a site from the University of Nebraska about cow killers. It’s interesting reading.

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