Red velvet ant or “Cow Killer”


The wingless female of certain wasps of the family Mutillidae, especially the large red and black ant (Dasymutillaoccidentalis) which has severe stings, the females have a large sting, a modified egg-laying organ called an ovipositor… Therefore, they inflict an unbearable sting when touched or stepped on, which is why they are called cow killers. As far as is known, a cow has never died from a sting that can be painful, but the venom is not very poisonous.

What ant can kill a cow?

The Cow killer is the largest of Kentucky’s velvet ants, measuring nearly an inch in length. it earned its name from the reputation of the female’s bite. They say the bite is so painful it could kill a cow. The female is predominantly red with some black; the male is half red and half black with dark wings.


Velvet ants are actually wasps, but they got their common name because the females have no wings, look like an ant and are covered in a thick layer of almost hairy hair. Due to their brightness and size, adult females are often spotted on the ground in open areas. Males are easiest to spot when they feed on flowering, nectar-producing plants. Females mainly parasitize the larvae and nymphs of ground-nesting wasps and bees, but a few species attack beetles and flies. Velvet ants are actually related to paper wasps, so females have a stinger that can inflict a very painful sting if mishandled. They got their second common name ‘cow killer’, because of the folklore that the sting was so powerful that it could kill a cow. Top of Form Bottom of Form