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04 June 2007

To Kill a Cow

I spotted this lethal beauty in the driveway down by the mailbox last evening. She's a fairly hyper creature and it was late in the day, so the pictures are so-so.

If you ever see one of these, don't pick it up! The velvet ant, AKA cow killer AKA mule killer, packs an extremely painful sting. But she isn't really an ant at all. She's a wasp. You can tell it's a female, coz she has no wings.

Despite the nicknames, she isn't aggressive and her venom isn't all that toxic. If she's startled, she'll usually give a warning, by means of stridulation, before stinging.

9 comments:

Peggy said...

Interesting information!! We see these all the time but I never knew what they were. I think they are kind of pretty...but I never thought about picking one up!

Peggy

Cathy S. said...

Oh, oh, oh. Do the males have wings like a fly? Cause something looking similiar to this bit me last week and my whole arm swelled up. It hurt for days.

SophieMae said...

Peggy, they are pretty, aren't they? Good thing you never handled one! Bet FC has. ;-]

Cathy, the males do have wings, but only the females sting. We do have some mean critters down here, don't we?

Scott said...

Haven't seen one of those in years, I remember them as a young boy up in the Panhandle. Good Blog.

Scott

SophieMae said...

Thanks for stopping by, Scott!
We don't see cow killers too very often. I somehow managed to have the good sense to leave them alone when I was growing up.

cathy s. said...

Ok, so what would a bug that is about the size of a yellow jacket, but with a bigger lower body, that is striped orange and black and wings that look like a house fly be? That has a vicious sting?

Floridacracker said...

I have slipped them into jars to listen to their irritated growling ..."stridulation?" but I don't handle them.
I do attribute a mystery sting on my barefoot to the cow killer, even tho, I never saw it. I think I pushed it down into the sand when I stepped on it.

Funny, I usually spot them in the driveway too. They are always so frantic.

SophieMae said...

FC, I figgered for sure you'd have been stung. After all, what haven't you been stung/bitten by? 8-]

Nice Tarzan yell, BTW. You might have given me some competition. ;-]

thingfish23 said...

They really are hyper. I had one in the yard the other day and was amazed at the amount of ground she covered in a short period of time.

Great entry.