The look of a cow killer, or red velvet ant, is enough to make some people run in fear. With a distinct red and black pattern, this insect is not actually an ant but a solitary wasp. This means that the cow killer doesn’t live in colonies and is rarely seen with another of its kind.
The cow killer cannot actually kill a cow, but got its name from the idea that its sting is so painful it could kill a cow. The myth that they indeed kill cows has been blown out of proportion over time. This solitary wasp is generally not aggressive and doesn’t sting unless stepped on or mishandled. Only the female cow killer has a toxic sting, which is why males never sting.
Cow killers can be found from the east coast of Florida all the way to Texas. In most cases, they will be found in pastures and the outside edges of forests. When found in urban areas, cow killers are most likely to be found in lawns, flower beds and areas where soil is present. Though rare, they may accidentally find their way into garages or homes.
Female cow killers dig into existing nests of bees and other wasps to lay their eggs. This solitary wasp will lay its eggs on the larvae that are currently found in that nest. Upon hatching, the cow killer larvae will consume the existing hosts.
Female cow killers are wingless and exhibit a velvet-like red and black hairy body. Males are generally similar in appearance to the females but possess two dark wings. While the sting of a cow killer is painful, extermination methods are generally not required. This solitary wasp does no damage to homes and will avoid contact with humans in most cases.
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At Emtec Pest Control, we are committed to safe and responsible pest control. We understand that your family’s safety is your number one priority, so we make it our priority, too. If you have any other questions about any of these pests or pest control for your home or business, contact your Oklahoma pest control experts at Emtec Pest Control by calling us or by filling out our online contact form. Our service areas in Northeast Oklahoma include Bixby, Broken Arrow, Catoosa, Owasso, Jenks, Sand Springs, Sapulpa, Skiatook, Stillwater, Tulsa and the surrounding areas. In Central Oklahoma, we service Edmond, Moore, Oklahoma City, Yukon and the surrounding areas. You can also connect with us on social media for more helpful pest control tips and information. We are on Facebook.