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LJWorld.com weblogs Dangerous Ideas

Cow Killer!

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/pdecell/7663410128/

Several people have reported seeing these wonderful insects over the last couple of days. These are sometimes called velvet ants. They are not ants but mutillid wasps. The females are wingless and usually brightly colored-orange or orange and black, though a few are grey. The males are winged. The females are enter the burrows of ground nesting bees and wasps and lay their eggs on or near the larvae of their host. The eggs hatch and the Mutlillid larvae feed on the host's larvae.

Mutillids can pack a powerful sting-especially the one pictured here. That probably is the origin of the other common name as a figure of speech- "Cow Killer." The females are extremely active and never seem to stop moving so it is difficult to get a decent picture of them. Fortunately I had a plastic lid to a lens filter handy and was able to trap this one long enough to get a good shot.

Comments

tange 1 year, 8 months ago

... and is it just me, or do the horseflies seem bigger this year?

http://tinyurl.com/bmubnnp

_

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Leslie Swearingen 1 year, 8 months ago

"I hate cows worse than I hate Catholics!" This is a totally different look at George Clooney, miles away from Vegas thats fer sure.

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Agnostick 1 year, 8 months ago

"Oh, George. Not the livestock!"

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Leslie Swearingen 1 year, 8 months ago

When my granddaughter was five we found a monarch caterpillar and put it on a house plant. We watched it build a cocoon, it was green with what looked like a golden zipper down the side. When it was fully changed the cocoon turned black and soft and the butterfly emerged. We watched it dry its wings and then took it outside and watched it fly away. Very cool experience for both of us.

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riverdrifter 1 year, 8 months ago

I like those cicada killers. One time when I was a kid I was holding a cicada between my thumb and forefinger making it buzz and fully intending to turn it loose. A cicada killer zeroed in on the sound, snatched it out of my fingers and flew off with it. Now, there is some panache.

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notaubermime 1 year, 8 months ago

I love mutillids. They are so fuzzy and cute. Some really cool spider mimics of mutillids as well.

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SteamPunque 1 year, 8 months ago

Katara; it's probably a "Cicada Killer" (Sphecius speciosus).

They are not very aggressive (unless you happen to be a Cicada), but look fearsome and are one of largest wasps seen in this area:

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Katara 1 year, 8 months ago

I was hoping this might be the big wasp/hornet/yellowjacket thing I've been seeing flying around but it doesn't look like it.

It is very large and it hovers around you but it does not seem aggressive. It is about the size of your ring finger and about as big around. It is kind of reddish brown with stripes. You can hear it buzz/or hum (probably its wings) when it is around.

Any ideas?

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tange 1 year, 8 months ago

Think that's exotic? Just look at this caterpillar...

http://www.moillusions.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/original1.jpg

/ it's even said to chirp!

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Leslie Swearingen 1 year, 8 months ago

Um professor I have a few questions. Are the females wingless because that gives them an unique niche to themselves so they have less competation? Do the males of the species only see orange and black so that is the females way of luring them in the right direction so to speak? Are the grey ones mutants and are they ever kicked out of the hive? Are they workers? What if, the military, or someone, bioengineered the wasps to carry a potent biohazzard? Could it be done? Wouldn't people see it as an allergy to wasp sting until it was too late?

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