SCARY: Did You Know There are “Cow Killer” Wasps Here in Kentucky?
It took fifty years of my life before I ever saw one of these things. I'll be honest. Until a couple of days ago, I'm not certain I even knew they existed.
My friend Jim and I were playing tennis over at Center Court here in Owensboro. Jim will tell you this. Actually, anyone I have ever played tennis with will tell you this. I am a complete freak when it comes to bugs, ants or spiders on a tennis court. If I see one, I will immediately stop playing and try to find a way to get the bug to safety. It's like I practice Jainism. Have you heard of the Jains?
They respect all forms of life so fully that, in order to make sure they don't accidentally step on some life form, they will actually walk with brooms and gently sweep in front of themselves before they take a step.
The religion is fascinating and I am quite possible 1% Jain. I don't want my tennis shoes to be the cause of the untimely death of some critter who probably didn't realize it had stumbled onto a tennis court where some random 50-year-old guy is channeling his best Serena Williams.
Jim and I were playing (my inner Serena was on point that day) and I looked down and saw a bizarre looking thing crawling across the court. I had never seen anything like it. So, I ran over to my tennis bag and grabbed my cellphone to try to get a photo of it.
Now, don't laugh. This was the best I could do. I took about ten photos. I successfully captured the "ant" in just two of them. And, my pics are complete crap. But, you'll get the point!
Yes, I know it's blurry. That thing was running across the court like it was competing in the friggin' Olympics.
This one's a little bit better, right?
Now, here's the real kicker. I was walking behind the thing trying to usher it off the court. I was completely fascinated by it. It's colors were so bold and beautiful and that black stripe on his backside was so incredibly and ornately defined. To me, it looked like a wasp of some kind, but it moved like an ant (albeit a really LARGE one). I called Jim over. He took a look and agreed that he had never seen one either.
After finishing up our hitting session, I went home and started researching my find online. As it turns out, my instincts were right. It's kind of an ant and kinda not.
It was actually a Red Velvet Ant, which is a really elegant and kind way of saying it's a "cow killer" wasp.
That certainly sounds charming does it? Now, seriously. Picture this. I was walking behind this thing (where it's "cow killing" stinger sits) and trying to gently nudge the thing to safety, not realizing that if I got stung by the thing that I was likely going to be writhing around in agony at Centre Court.
If you're curious just how potent a Red Velvet Ant's sting can be, check this out. On an episode of Jack's World of Wildlife, he put one of those long stingers to the test.
There you have it, Gang! The Red Velvet "Cow Killer Wasp" Ant. Yes, there is such a thing and we have them right here in Kentucky. In fact, my friend Charlie Johnson has seen them outside his house over behind Audubon Elementary School.
Have you ever seen a "cow killer" ant?