Demystifying Red Velvet Ants: The Buzz on the Fuzz

Some call them red velvet ants. Some call them cow killers. Most don’t call them what they really are: wasps.

Have you seen a fuzzy red bug that looks like an ant walking around lately? Check out our blog for the buzz on the fuzz! There’s a great buzz in Middle Tennessee over a pretty little bug called by a variety of names.

Red velvet ants

If you’ve seen a fuzzy red thing walking around on the sidewalk or in your yard lately, it’s probably a female red velvet ant. When left alone, they aren’t looking to threaten humans. However, when picked up and toyed with, a threat may emerge.

When most people see something fuzzy, they think, “Aww, cute! I want to touch it.” However, when it comes to velvet ants, it is not recommended that you pick them up, because they may sting you. And, if something can be called a cow killer, it’s sting hurts…a lot!

Velvet ants are wasps that cannot actually fly. They feed on the cocoons of ground-nesting bees. Essentially, the mama velvet ant bores a hole in the cocoon of bees nesting underground and lays her eggs inside the cocoon. Then, when the velvet ant eggs hatch, they prey on the eggs in the cocoon.

Interesting, huh? Wasps killing bees in a dynamic, underground battle.

In an even more interesting twist, velvet ants often prey on cicada killers. A cicada killer is a large wasp that preys on cicadas. Female cicada killers capture cicadas, sting them, and then place them in holes they’ve borrowed into the ground. As their young hatch, they feed on the burrowed cicada.

That shifts our food chain paradigm to wasps killing bees and/or other wasps who kill cicadas.

Is your head swirling yet? Or is that just the buzz of all of these insects swarming around in your yard preying on each other? 🙂

If you’ve got a question, please post a comment. As always, you can find us on Facebook at Facebook.com/TheBugManTN.

The Buzz on Bees and Other Sting Things

“Killer” bees. Yellowjackets. Wasps. Nests. Allergies. Pain. Do you feel the fear? Honeybee, carpenter bee, bumble bee… How do I tell them apart?“Killer” bees. Yellowjackets. Wasps. Nests. Allergies. Pain. Do you feel the fear?

With warmer weather comes more bug activity, including bees and wasps. In this season, there are many different kinds of stinging insects flying around your home, car and work place. But you may not be able to tell those insects apart–especially if you swat at them fiercely or run away.

Through this blog, we’ll try to teach you a few memorable points about a few of the stinging insects active in your neighborhood. However, this explanation will not be exhaustive. If you’re seeing insect activity, please call us. We’ll come out and identify–as well as try to remove–the wasp nest or beehive from your property.

Carpenter Bee

Though carpenter bees don’t pose a public health threat. They do have the potential to damage wood through the building of their nests. Sounds a lot like termites, huh?

Painting and staining the wood on your house may help prevent carpenter bees because they prefer to nest in untreated wood. However, they will occasionally make themselves at home even in treated wood. If you discover carpenter bees, we will assist you in treating them, and recommend having the holes filled or repaired.

Bumble Bee (not to be confused with Honeybees)

These bees have quite a fuzzy appearance. However, don’t let their apparent softness fool you, because bumble bees can sting more than once. In defending their nest, bumble bees will chase any threatening thing (that means you) a considerable distance.

Dealing with bumble bees can prove tricky because they defend their homes so aggressively and can sting multiple times. Please don’t try to take care of a bumble bee nest on your own. For your own safety, let us help you.

Honeybee

These little buzzers only sting once. That’s good news if you ever come in contact (literally) with one. Unfortunately, a honeybee sting is one of the most painful stings. Like bumble bees, honeybees chase invaders of their nest for a relatively long distance.

Taking care of a honeybee nest is the same as taking care of a bumble bee nest. Consider the safety that comes from a professional pest management company and spare yourself the stinging.  If we find a honeybee nest, we recommend contacting a beekeeper to have them relocate the hive.

Though they can harm you, both the honeybee and bumble bee are beneficial because they help in the process of pollination.

“Killer” Bees

By the way, don’t worry, because “killer” bees aren’t active in Tennessee. However, if you visit Arizona, California, New Mexico, Nevada or Texas, you would find them there. The name “killer” bee is applied because they attack as a group, which causes more damage to humans. If someone is highly allergic to bee stings and gets attacked multiple times by this species of bee, the person may die of an allergic reaction, if left untreated.

Yellowjacket

Wrapping up today’s little list of sting things is the yellowjacket. Getting stung by a yellowjacket can cause an allergic reaction. Over 500,000 people are sent to the emergency room every year because of stinging pests like these.

Yellowjackets often hang out at BBQs and picnics near the sugary beverages and meaty meals, or by trash cans and recycling bins. Remember to properly dispose of your meats and sweets. Overall, proper trash disposal is very helpful in pest control.

If you suspect yellowjacket activity, call a pest professional.

Those are your bug basics for today. Thanks for reading!