Great Smoky Mountains Officials: Beware The 'Cow Killer Ant'

Great Smoky Mountains Officials: Beware The 'Cow Killer Ant'

12:00pm Sep 10, 2019
A female "cow killer ant." Photo courtesy of Briana Cairco, Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Park officials in the Great Smoky Mountains are warning about an insect you may want to avoid. They say the “cow killer ant” packs a powerful sting.

This tiny insect dubbed the “cow killer” is not technically an ant, and its venom isn’t really strong enough to kill a cow. But the park service is warning that its sting can be excruciating.

Wildlife officials say the three-quarter-inch insect covered in reddish fuzz is actually part of the wasp family.

Vibrant striping may have led to another nickname, “the velvet ant.” The Charlotte Observer reports that while males may be seen flying about, it is the wingless females that can deliver painful stings.

For bug lovers, now may be a good time to go in search of the colorful creatures. They’re typically found in the summertime and are relatively common in the mountains of western North Carolina.

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