Velvet Ant or Cow Killer Ant

Velvet Ant or Sometimes Called a Cow Killer Ant

Velvet Ant or Cow Killer Ant

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Velvet Ant or Cow Killer Ant

submitted by Soni Cochran, Extension Associate

An unusual insect reported in Lancaster County yards during late summer and early fall is the velvet ant. The females are wingless and are sometimes mistaken for a large, hairy, orange and black ant. These "ants" are actually wasp! A solitary wasp, the velvet ant does not live in colonies or have a "nest". 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. 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 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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