The Monster That Would Not Die!
It was the fourth of July and people were busy preparing for the fireworks that night. The rays of the sun were beating down on me as I walked to my clothes line to pin up a few pieces I had washed out by hand. How could it be that on this holiday I was still doing laundry, I asked myself? I should be out swimming in the nearest beach sipping on a cold glass of ice tea. The picture in my mind dissipated as quickly as the cool morning breeze. It was at least 101 degrees in the shade and I was headed for the hottest part of the yard. Perhaps if I walked a bit faster I could finish my task as a homemaker and wife quickly.
As I was walking past my flower garden I noticed tiny ants running as if they were scared out of their wits. I stopped to see what all the fuss was about. I stooped over and picked up a brick that I had on my list of “to do” things. I was so shocked and frightened that I dropped the dish pan of wet clothes. The biggest ant I have ever seen in my entire 66 years ran right over my foot. It was at least an inch long and was bright red and black in color. My first instinct was to step on the beast and end its life. So I stepped firmly several times upon this huge ant but it kept running. I followed it as it ran, stepping on it as hard as I could. The only thing that happened was that the ant picked up speed and was determined to make a cool “get a way”.
All the ants I have seen in North Carolina were very small or perhaps a few red or black ants that were less than half an inch long. When you step on them they die very quickly but not so with this brightly colored giant of an insect. Was it an ant? It looked just like an ant but was at least an inch or so long. Could it be some bizarre creature from the dark pits of the night? I didn’t know but I was determined to end its life.
I followed behind the strange thing stomping on it as often as I could. Now I probably weigh about one hundred and fifty pound so I knew it should be slowing down at least. I was so very wrong. It kept running faster and faster. Finally I took a stick and stabbed it in the middle between its back side and the front. Its back side fell off but the front part with all the legs kept running without his behind attached. I was startled to say the least. I’ve always heard from my parents’ years ago that if it has a red coat it is probably one that can cause a tremendous amount of pain. I really didn’t feel like being bitten or stung by this monster from another world. I ran inside the house to call my husband to see this incredible insect with bright red and black colors. To my surprise when I returned the head portion of the insect had run away. I looked and looked but never found the front half of this velvet red insect.
Being the curious person that I am, I ran to the computer to look up this jungle monster. I typed in “red and black giant ant” into the search engine. If I don’t know something, I just Google it and most of the time I find my answer. This time was no different. I found the picture of this incredible insect staring right in my face. It was called a red velvet ant or “cow killer”! Oh my, was I excited. I called all the family to see this huge thing that I had discovered on my way to the clothesline. There it was as big as day! Chills ran down my spine when I thought about how close my fingers came to touching this bad female. Google’s magic box had found the exact insect and their fact made me shutter.
In all my years I have never seen anything like this giant ant. If it could bring down a cow I figured the pain must be incredible. I do not like pain of any kind. I found out that this insect’s outer shell is very hard in order to keep other bees and wasps from stinging it. I can say without a doubt this woman was a ferocious fighter when provoked and I definitely was provoking her. I have look high and low for the front part of her body but I never found it. I wonder if she can live without her hind parts. Then I happen to think back to my poking this awesome critter with a stick. Boy! If this thing could kill a cow I was very happy it didn’t attack me. I would have been no match for such a beast of an ant. This Cow Killer Wasp or ant’s picture was etched into my mind forever.
I read they are found from Connecticut to Florida and west to Missouri and Texas. It was also here in North Carolina and it appeared it was planning to make itself a great home here. I still wonder if those eggs hatch if they will be as big as this one I found. If so, I’m thinking about wearing thick gloves when working in my garden. If that is not enough I could declare I heard it squeak when I poked at it. What a mystery ant or wasp? I found it to be really a wasp but it looks just like an ant.
If you find one that looks like this one, leave it alone because it might climb in your window at night and crawl down into your ear. God forbid it finds any other opening! Yikes!!!!!
Question: What is a Cow Killer Wasp?
Written by Sybil Shearin
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