As I said last week; Daddy Nick gave me a nice list of our regional household pests that I have been following along and writing about weekly in my “dog-blog”. Although I am very well educated about the insect world in general, with termites being my specialty, Daddy Nick has exposed me to new species’ that we barely touched on in Termite Detective School.

Being Loyal Termite and Pest Control’s exclusive K-9 Termite Detective has been a challenge; however, I wouldn’t trade my experience working here for all the dog bones in China. Part of the excitement is learning about something new almost every day. When I bark a question to Daddy Nick or Mama Gena, they are always eager to explain in detail the answers to my questions, as they do our clients. This information has been invaluable in my continuing education and provided me with interesting subject matter for my blog “What’s Buggin’ You?

Today, I am writing about an insect I knew very little about prior to doing a bit of research. This insect is very interesting because it goes by the name Red Velvet Ant, a.k.a. “Cow Killer”. Actually, the Red Velvet Ant is not an ant at all but a wasp. The female who is the dangerous one (wouldn’t you know), is wingless and covered in dense hair superficially resembling ants. The red velvet ant is the largest velvet ant species, reaching about ¾ inch in length. They are black overall with patches of dense orange-red hair on the thorax and abdomen. Males are similar but have wings and can not sting. The female, however, can inflict a very painful sting to man and animals, hence the nickname “Cow Killer”. Research shows that it is doubtful that many cows are actually stung.

The female velvet ants dig into the nesting chambers of ground-nesting bees and wasps. They then lay their eggs on the larvae inside which soon hatches into a white legless grub. When the immature velvet ant is born it eats its host (grateful aren’t they?) and then spins a cocoon within the pupa case of the host. The ant goes through several larval stages before forming a pupa of its own.

The velvet ant’s mouthparts are for chewing. Lone females can be found crawling on the ground, particularly in open sandy areas. Adults are most common during the warm summer months. They occasionally enter structures for insect prey. Males are often found on flowers although some species are nocturnal.

Now, how many of you knew about this little critter before checking in on my blog? Stay tuned, you can always learn a little something in, What’s Buggin’ You?

If you have any pest control issues that need professional attention; Who ya’ gonna’ call? Call LOYAL!! You know what I’m barking about, Who ya’ gonna’ call? Call LOYAL!!

When it comes to termite and pest control; Hunter says,
“If you got ‘em, we’ll get ‘em!”

I’ll bark at you again next week, Ruff! Ruff!

Red Velvet Ant, a.k.a. “Cow Killer” in Virginia

Serving the Henrico and Richmond VA area since 1960

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