What’s In a Name? Part 2 Cow Killer

The name Cicada Killer doesn’t seem quite as scary as Cow Killer.  This stunning red and black Dasymutilla occidentalis is rumored to have a sting powerful enough to kill a cow.  It will not kill a cow, but hurts really bad for humans.  The above photo is a male and they lack  stingers.

The females are wingless and pack a potent sting.  I did not have that information on the morning I spent watching the drama of their lives play out.  The female is also call a Red Velvet Ant and she sure is pretty.  The female has a difficult journey.  While I watched, she was pursued by many suitors at once.  Her goal is to lay her eggs in the Cicada Killers Wasps’ tunnel.

Needless to say, the wasps were not welcoming.  It seems like a rough life for the Red Velvet Cow Killer, but as it turns out she has many defense mechanisms and is hardly ever eaten.  A study was done and 59 predators were given the chance to eat the Red Velvet Cow Killer and only two succeeded.  The Cow Killer is one tough lady and lives up to her name.


17 Comments on “What’s In a Name? Part 2 Cow Killer”

  1. shoreacres says:

    I’ve never heard of this one, but you’re right that she’s pretty. I’m always fascinated (and sometimes perplexed) by the interdependence of species. The red on this one’s obvious, but when I looked closer, I saw that ‘furriness’ that no doubt gave rise to the ‘velvet’ in the name.

  2. Love this one. I run across those here. Not killed as of yet. The variety of ants is amazing.

  3. Eliza Waters says:

    So interesting! A pretty insect, the bright red serves as a warning, I expect.

  4. Deb says:

    They do hurt! One has sung me already when I was weeding! I have been a glove wear since when weeding by hand.

  5. Tina says:

    Beautiful and dangerous—it’s the stuff of who-done-it’s. I’m not at all familiar with the cow killer, but what a name!

  6. Your cicada killer is a different critter than the one that took over my hillside garden. That one was more like a bumblebee on steroids. But now that think about it, that was called a locust killer. As far as I know, it does not sting.

  7. carol says:

    Glad I’m not an insect! Not the best life.


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