The Eastern Velvet Ant - also known as the Cow Killer - is not an ant at all, though the female looks and walks like one. The Cow Killer is actually a type of wasp and the wingless female has a ferocious sting that is rumored to be strong enough to kill cattle. For humans, the sting is extremely painful and this insect should not be handled. Males do have wings and look more like a typical wasp despite some hairs on their body. The Cow Killer is a solitary wasp, more likely to be seen alone than in nests with hundreds of others.
This wasp species is parasitic to Bumble bees. Females lay eggs in a bumble bee hive. Once the wasp's eggs hatch, the wasp larvae eat the larvae of the bumble bee. Adults drink nectar. Cow Killers can be found in fields, meadows, sandy areas, lawns, and at the edges of forests. They are typically most active at dusk or during the night. Look for females on the ground, walking in grass, along walls, and across patios.
General Characteristics Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Cow Killer may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Cow Killer. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.