Curious insect provokes KPLC Facebook viewer's interest

Photo courtesy of Google
Photo courtesy of Google

On Thursday August 18th a KPLC viewer emailed in a photo of an interesting insect that she saw in the yard. Many of us in the KPLC news-room were curiously interested so the picture was posted onto the KPLC Facebook page with text asking our viewers what they knew about this curious bug.

The response was overwhelming. In only a few hours we were up to over 100 comments.

Immediately it became clear from the stream of similar comments that these bugs are known as "cow ants". They earned this nick-name because their sting is so ferocious that it is said to be able to bring down a cow.

Ironically these insects aren't ants at all. They are a type of flightless wasp known as Mutillidae.

Typically these ants are nocturnal but they do come out occasionally during the day. A viewer, Clay Roussell, said on the KPLC Facebook page that "they seek out the burrow of a bee or other species of wasp… If the Mutillidae finds one she will lay an egg. The young hatchling will then eat the larvae of the host."

These menacing wasps are said to be aggressive. They even chirp loudly when provoked. KPLC Facebook friend Kris King LeJeune says "if you… use something to push down on them they'll make a squeakin noise sometimes."

The males look different and do not sting.

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