Velvet Ant - That There is a Wasp

A Velvet Ant was running around in the leaf litter in a forest near my house. And then I saw another, and another. Ulimately, I saw 5 or 6 of these "ants" running around in the leaf litter. This was an unusual occurence- typically I had only seen one Velvet Ant at a time- this was the first time that I had seen more than 1 together.

"But, Daniel," you protest, "that has to be the ugliest Velvet Ant that I have ever seen." I don't disagree. This species of the Velvet Ant isn't as pretty as pretty or as hairy as other Velvet Ants. It's scientific name is Dasymutilla alesia- and like other Velvet Ants- it stings like the dickens.

Velvet Ant stings are so painful- one of their common names is Cow Killer. And, this aren't ants, they are female wingless wasps. The male Velvet Ant has translucent black wings.

I nominate this insect for the following insect award: Ugliest Velvet Ant Species.


Steve said...

How do you know the sting is so bad? The author of the resource guide might be kind of whimpy. I have been stung by a Hornet and shot with a BB gun - now those HURT!

Daniel Spurgeon said...

Hi Steve,

Perfect- you are the right candidate for testing the relative pain of a Velvet Ant. I will catch one and you can volunteer in the name of science to let it sting you. You can then tell me which was the most painful, the Hornet, the BB gun shot, or the Velvet Ant sting. But I remind you that the Velvet Ant is also known as the Cow Killer because its sting is reported to be so painful! :)

Anonymous said...

I have been stung by a velvet ant. I grew up in the country. Let me tell you: Worst pain I ever felt. I have had my testicle bit by a dog; and it ripped the skin. I've stepped on a 3 inch screw and had it go through my big toe. I've sprained my ankle severly. I've broken my right arm (sitting in the back of a truck, traveling 50 mph; stuck my arm out to knock over a traffic cone). I've shot myself in the leg (from an inch away) with a tipman98 custom paintball gun.

The most pain I have ever felt in my life: The sting of this ant. I saw one, and tried to pick it up with a paper-towel. It stung through the towel; and it hurt so incredibly bad, I don't even know how to explain it.

Daniel Spurgeon said...

Hi anonymous- you have lived quite the life. :) Personally, I would have thought getting your testicle bit by a dog would be more painful than the sting of a velvet ant- but, if you say so. Thanks for the post.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the story Anonymous! I saw one outside and put my hand near it, and my coworker said, "Don't touch that! It is a 'cow killer.'" Your story drove the pain home most vividly. I am a wimp anyway, so if I had that much pain, I probably would be begging for my maker to take me!

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