What The Hell Is A Cow Killer Wasp, And Is One Screaming In Your Yard
I was walking to my car, and I noticed this little flash of color by my foot. When I looked down on the concrete, I saw this inch long monster. It looks like a really big ant, it's bright red, and I swear I could see its fangs from about 5 feet and 11 inches in the air.
My instincts said don't touch it, so I didn't even try to kill it. I just went about my business. But then I looked up what it is, and I feel like I put someone's life in danger by not killing it on the spot.
Its apparently referred to as a "Cow Killer Wasp" or "Cow Killer Ant", but technically it's called the Eastern Velvet Ant. Not only does it not actually kill cows, but it's not actually an ant either. It's a dasymutilla occidentalis scientifically, and belongs in the parasitoid wasp group. The reason that they look more like furry ants than wasps is due to the female "Cow Killers" not having wings. But they're still a wasp.
You might even hear them in your yard without knowing it. These vicious little monsters have a "scream" or "squeak" that they make. Jump to the 1:50 mark in this video to see if you recognize this sound from your yard:
They're called "Cow Killers" because their sting and venom combo is said to be "strong enough to kill a cow". Not because they actually kill and eat cows.
But they do eat other insects. They're also called "Cicada Killers" sometimes, because they will find cicada eggs, and lay their eggs inside the cicada eggs. The wasp larva will hatch quickly, and eat all of the cicada eggs and larva.
Anyway, less of the baby eating, more of the stinging. How much does that sting hurt? Check out these guys getting it intentionally...
So if you see one of these, or hear that sound in your yard...LOOK OUT! You might have some Cow Killers in your area.