Thursday, August 2, 2018

The Story of the Velvet Ant

Talmage is a CRAZY bug catcher.
He always has been, from the time we went catching ladybugs when he was a year and a half old.
He has gotten to the point where he can easily catch house flies with his bare hands.
Tennessee has so many exotic-looking bugs, so the bug catching is constant here.

The other day I was making dinner when Wesley came into the house shouting,
"MOM!! We found a velvet ant!!! Just like at the Nature Center!"
Velvet ants are actually a type of ground wasp, nicknamed the "cow killer" because the sting is so painful--one of the top 5 most painful stings of all insects.
They are very distinct with red and black coloring, and a velvet-y covering all over their large ant-like bodies.
And, from what I remembered reading at the Nature Center, they're pretty rare in this area.

So I didn't bat an eye.

I smiled indulgently and widened my eyes while responding, "Oh, cooool!"
And then I went back to what I was doing, not really thinking a velvet ant was in our backyard.

Talmage, however, immediately responded.
"Wow, cool, I'm going to catch it!" he said excitedly, and then he dashed out the door.

Moments later he rushed into the kitchen, holding in his hand a partially sealed ziploc bag with, yes, a REAL velvet ant in it.
It was going nuts, crawling around frantically.
And then I started mentally going nuts.
Because my almost-2-year-old had been standing mere inches from it with bare feet poised to step on it.
(He was already traumatized by the incredibly painful black wasp sting he had gotten a couple of days before.)
And my 8-year-old had just caught it with his pocket knife and stuck it in a ziploc bag.

I took it out onto the back patio and began smashing it...and smashing it...and smashing it...
they have an incredibly strong exoskeleton and the thing just would not die!
Finally it was in pieces and I could relax a little and start looking up velvet ants.

Which led us to discover Coyote Peterson--such fascinating creature shows!
We were on the edges of our seats as we watched him let a velvet ant sting him (he was writhing on the ground...SO grateful it didn't get Maxwell or the other boys!).
Seriously, you ought to check it out.

My one regret from the whole thing is that I only got a picture of the velvet ant after I had smashed it to smithereens.
At least we have a couple of pictures of Talmage in action with a cicada!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, that is terrifying! I'm so glad everyone is safe and unharmed.


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