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Gary350
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9 Red Velvet Ants 1 Japanese Wasp Nest in Garden

We discovered 9 Red Velvet ants in the garden this evening. We shot at then with 2 pellet rifles and a shotgun. After shooting at them for 20 minutes with pellet rifles we finally cut 1 Red Velvet ant in half where the body sections connected together. A shotgun blast blows dirt every where the ant goes flying 50 feet to the other side of the garden and walks away unhurt. I guess a shotgun pellet needs to make a direct hit on the ant body to kill it. We hit some ants with a 2 lb hammer it smashes them 4" into the soil and they are unhurt. We found several Red Velvet ants under a very large zucchini plant. Then we noticed Red Velvet ants in the Cantaloupe patch. While searching for ants in the cantaloupe patch we see a Japanese Wasp buzzing round in a certain area. That big 2" long wasp kept flying down under the cantaloupe leaves and disappearing. We moved leaves around where the Japanese wasp was and discovered the nest. Red Velvet ants are coming out of 2 holes. The 2 holes are about 2 feet apart, both holes go down into the soil at a 45 degrees angle opposite directions of each other so there must be 2 nest. All the soil the ants have brought up look like Kitty Litter or Oil Dry. It looks like any smaller ant hill only much larger. We managed to kill 1 Red Velvet ant the rest have all vanished somewhere in both melon patches. I poured 1/2 gallon of gasoline down the 2 holes not sure that will kill them.

I wonder what the connection is with the Red Velvet ants and the Japanese wasps?

About mid August last year I saw 7 red velvet ants in the driveway, I managed to kill 3 of them. For every 1 that I see I bet there are several more red velvet ants. If you see a hole in your garden or yard with what looks like kitty Litter all around it LOOK OUT for red velvet ants.

Click the photos they get much larger and the holes and kitty litter stuff is easier to see.

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Do you see the hole top center at the edge of the Kitty litter stuff. Soil is dry here so it looks like a light tan color.

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This is the other hole. There is a dead Japanese wasp left of the hole we shot it with a pellet rifle. Soil is wet here so it look darker like soil looks when it is wet top right hand corner of this pic.

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jeff84
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Re: 9 Red Velvet Ants 1 Japanese Wasp Nest in Garden

yeah they can inflict lots of pain, but in the grand scheme of things they are beneficial. and yes red velvet ants are difficult to kill

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Gary350
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Re: 9 Red Velvet Ants 1 Japanese Wasp Nest in Garden

Look at this video.

https://youtu.be/EF-oSVCCqzU

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Gary350
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Re: 9 Red Velvet Ants 1 Japanese Wasp Nest in Garden

My cousin is a school teacher she said, Japanese wasps live in the ground, red velvet ants come to kill the Japanese wasps.

That sounds logical but how did all these red velvet ants find the Japanese wasps?

I went to the garden this morning, no red velvet ants in sight. No wasps either. There is a dead Cicada in 1 of the wasp holes. Online search for cicada killers shows pictures of Japanese wasps.

https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/ef004

I am going to watch the garden today maybe I can get some videos. I have always seen red velvet ants in the evening about 3 pm to 7 pm.

WHY does the option to EDIT go away so fast sometimes 5 to 10 minutes???

http://www.cicadamania.com/cicadas/10-f ... ler-wasps/

Red velvet ants worry me I do not want to get stung.

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Re: 9 Red Velvet Ants 1 Japanese Wasp Nest in Garden

Gary350 wrote:Look at this video.

https://youtu.be/EF-oSVCCqzU


Judging by that guy's reaction, I'd not mess with those things while they were alive. No point in enduring that pain.

I watched another video where he let a huge wasp that paralyses tarantulas so it can lay an egg on the spiders abdomen and the egg hatches to eat the paralyzed spider while it grows. Lovely creature that one is.

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Re: 9 Red Velvet Ants 1 Japanese Wasp Nest in Garden

I was concerned when you said your Japanese wasps are the Cicada Killers because I LOVE Cicada Killers even if they are big and scary and makes even me flinch when they do a fly-by without warning. But I have been close during their aerial Cicada hunt and capture and they never showed any sign of attacking me or even took notice except when I got too close with my iPad Pro to take pictures -- from their point of view I'm holding up a giant shiny rectangular object that is getting closer and closer and sometimes reflecting the sun at them -- it buzzed once and then flew away clutching the Cicada....


Then I thought, maybe they ARE one and the same -- thought then how do they end up parasitizing North American cicadas? ... so I looked it up and found this article which looks relevant :

Cicada killer wasps are no cause for concern | MSU Extension
http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/cicada_kil ... or_concern

In past years, people have called to report them as Japanese hornets, killer bees, some kind of mutant, or simply the biggest %$@&!# bee they’ve ever seen. Many are quite surprised to learn that the Cicada killer is a native species and often respond with, “I have lived here for _____ (fill in the number) years and have never seen anything like them before. Are you sure they’re native?” Yes, Ma’am, quite sure.

These spectacular insects are known scientifically as Sphecius speciosus (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae). They are the largest wasp that occurs in Michigan. They occur in all states east of the Rocky Mountains and prefer to dig their burrows in sandy, bare, well-drained soil exposed to full sunlight. The wasps feed on flower nectar while the immature or larval stages feed on cicadas provided to them by the female wasp. Like other solitary wasps with no large colony to defend, cicada killers usually ignore people as they go about their business of digging holes and hunting for cicadas. A mound of fine soil surrounds the burrow of each female cicada killer.


...and this... Red Velvet "ants" are wasps -- I knew that... I think that was mentioned earlier....

Cicada Killer Wasp | MDC Discover Nature
https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-natu ... iller-wasp

ECOSYSTEM CONNECTIONS
Although they prey on cicadas, cicada killers are preyed upon by a wasp called the velvet ant. The female velvet ant sneaks into the cicada killer’s tunnel and lays an egg in a nest cell. The cicada killer larva eats its cicada and grows; when it pupates, the velvet ant larva eats the pupa.

~~ pretty fascinating stuff ~~
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Re: 9 Red Velvet Ants 1 Japanese Wasp Nest in Garden

...so the red velvet ants you saw may have been male/female pairs (you missed the 10th?) that mated and were there to sneak into the cicada killer nests OR maybe these 9 were the ones that emerged from the same day's brood -- the article says the eggs are laid in one per nest at a time, but I imagine the female goes around laying eggs in different nests.
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Re: 9 Red Velvet Ants 1 Japanese Wasp Nest in Garden

Gary350 wrote:Look at this video.

https://youtu.be/EF-oSVCCqzU


Okay then.... (Now I feel completely sane.)

Those are some ugly bugs to find.... Not willing the trade my Chernobyl Green June beetles for them either.

I would not keep those around, no matter how beneficial they are.

I would have skipped the gasoline... too hard to clean out of the garden afterward.
Would have funneled the hole full with a little pile of rust and aluminum powder and a short strip of magnesium ribbon.... glass, ceramic, iron and dead earth are a lot easier to clean up.

Stuff is actually legal and safe. Once lite you cant put it out so be mindful of how close you have things that could ignite and how much you are using. Have made crucible steel out of brake rotor grindings and ball bearings dozens of times with it. Have also used it to smelt magnetite (black sand) into iron.
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Re: 9 Red Velvet Ants 1 Japanese Wasp Nest in Garden

This post makes me kind of uncomfortable. That's okay, it's fascinating and I'll deal with it. Coyote Peterson getting stung by the cowkiller or velvet ant was lucky. Yeah, I've seen his video series on stinging insects.

I was stung by a velvet ant in my backyard vegetable garden many years ago. Incapacitated for three days. No exaggeration. There was no swelling on the arch of my left foot, but within one second of the "uh-oh what just happened moment", I was bolting for the back door, about 12 feet away. I had to crawl onto that porch and knocked the bottle of ammonia off the shelf so I could dump it over my foot. Very brief respite, maybe a second and a half. Crawled into the kitchen, got a bag of frozen veg out and lay there on the floor with the icy bag and a tea towel wrapped around my foot. The only comfort was when the ice had caused enough pain to counter the wasp sting. My dogs and cats (3/3) clustered around me, but stayed at least a foot away as I spasmed or shuddered with renewed pain. My ex came home, replaced the veg with a huge mixing bowl of ice, helped me to bed where I lay prone with my foot in the ice bath until that pain made me take it out, then had my foot out on a towel until the numbness waned allowing the sting to renew it's relentless attack, then back in the ice again. For three days. Literally. I have a very high tolerance for pain, and I adore all animals and plants, but I had the irrational idea that I wanted to asphalt my back yard. I think that was just in a dream, but I still remember the inclination, kinda like the irrational feeling I'd get when I had migraines that if I could just bury an axe in my head or chainsaw my face and top of my head off, I'd feel better. Of course I know that was just the pain talking, but there it is.

While I was in bed with the ice and the dogs and the cats, my ex called the entomologists at the university to find someone who could identify the insect by the effect it had, the glimpse of red, the location in the state, the loose sandy organic soil, etc. He did not have to get very far with his description. Dasymutilla occidentalis http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/mis ... llidae.htm

The cowkiller part of the name is kinda iffy. Entomologists will tell you there are no verified case of livestock being killed, but they certainly have been stung and have been in serious pain, but farmers will say there are cases of dead livestock. What I know about university types and their statistics is that something doesn't exist if one of their own hasn't witnessed it. I tend to believe the farmers. Grain of salt.

Do not asphalt your garden. They are generally solitary and shy creatures, living underground in little mole run kind of rills. They really aren't interested in you unless you sit on them. Or inadvertently step on them as I did. I have only been able to walk barefoot in the yard after ten years or so post sting. Flipflops at every doorway. My respirations are up just thinking about that event in my life.

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Re: 9 Red Velvet Ants 1 Japanese Wasp Nest in Garden

Gary,

Your original post made me LMFAO :!:

Good luck.
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Re: 9 Red Velvet Ants 1 Japanese Wasp Nest in Garden

Sheesh. So glad that all we have are earthquakes...

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Re: 9 Red Velvet Ants 1 Japanese Wasp Nest in Garden

I was always told that the reason they were called cow killers, wasn't because the sting could kill a cow, but because the sting would make the cow take off running and sometimes they would run off of cliffs.

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Gary350
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Re: 9 Red Velvet Ants 1 Japanese Wasp Nest in Garden

First thing this morning before breakfast I went straight to the garden looking for Red Velvet Ants and Japanese wasps. I am too paranoid to stand in one spot longer than 2 seconds I don't want a Red Velvet Ants crawling up my leg, I don't want to get stung. The Japanese wasp nest has a dead cicada laying in the entrance.

I checked the garden, driveway, yard, several times today, before breakfast, after breakfast, before church, after church, after lunch and about every 30 minutes all day. I have my camera in my pocket this time I will get a video if I see something. No Red Velvet Ants and no Japanese wasps. I did some snooping in the melon patch moving the leaves with the hoe and found another Japanese wasp nest about 15 feet from the other nest. Online information says the Japanese wasp nest is U shaped with 2 ways IN & OUT. The U shape has about 100 golf ball size caverns all along the tunnel where the Japanese wasp puts cicada bodies with several eggs on each body.

For a whole week the trees have been buzzing with the deafening sound of 1000s of cicadas, it sounds like 1000s of tiny chain saws up in the trees. Information online says, Cicadas, Japanese wasps, Red Velvet Ants, all appear within about 2 or 3 days of each other. This is a cycle of nature, Japanese wasp kill cicadas and lay their eggs, red velvet ants kill Japanese wasps and lay their eggs. The trees are silent today no more cicadas, I appears the cycle is over. It was like a 1 week War, bugs out to kill each other to lay eggs. I have learned something new, next year when I hear the cicadas about mid August I will be on the look out for red velvet ants.

The moles have found the Japanese wasp nest there are 3 mole tunnels going to it. I bet this is part of natures cycle too. Man interferes by killing moles and insects.

It will be dark soon, no more Cicadas, no more Japanese wasps, no more Red Velvet ants.

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Re: 9 Red Velvet Ants 1 Japanese Wasp Nest in Garden

That's interesting that you can witness such diversity and cycle of life at work in your garden. I'm guessing the way you prep your garden by tilling to fine tilts makes it attractive to the Cicada Killers. (You are just used to calling them Japanese wasps, right? Because I don't think they are Japanese at all... And different from the Japanese Giant Hornet)

There are at least one species of Cicada Killers around here, but I don't think red velvet ants are? I'm not particularly anxious to meet one in close person, but it would be interesting to see them ...from a far. :>
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Re: 9 Red Velvet Ants 1 Japanese Wasp Nest in Garden

So, are you going in there after the egg laden bug carcasses to maybe avoid a repeat next year?

Thanks for the ecology lesson, I will hopefully never need to make use of first hand.
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Re: 9 Red Velvet Ants 1 Japanese Wasp Nest in Garden

Such a coincidence, but today while out in the garden, I noticed with corner of my eye a hovering body above my head at a spot where a hummingbird regularly does this. So I looked up brightly, ready to say "Good morning!" to it as usual.

To my surprise, it wasn't a hummingbird hovering not 2 feet above my face, it was smaller but huge for an insect -- at first I thought hummingbird moth, but there was another not-hummingbird nor hummingbird moth characteristic: silent. When my eyes focused, I realized it was a gigantic wasp, and remembered this thread -- a Cicada Killer wasp.

Cicadas were singing in the background....

-- Have you noticed that not only animals and birds, but insects also seem to sense your gaze? The moment your eyes focus on them, they turn and look, freeze, or dart away. That's what this one did, darted up at an angle to the elderberry and inspected each berry truss, then tried the corn, then flew off. Deadly (I thought) silent in flight the whole time. I tried to take a picture but it was moving too fast.

A short while later, I heard the loud !!!GIGI!!! alarm call of a Cicada then silence. I think the wasp caught up to it.
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Re: 9 Red Velvet Ants 1 Japanese Wasp Nest in Garden

Interesting you should mention it. I looked it up to see what the Cicada Killer looked like:

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This shows the size of it:
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I'm pretty sure I just saw one this morning, although I just got a glimpse of it before it flitted off.
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Re: 9 Red Velvet Ants 1 Japanese Wasp Nest in Garden

ah, I've seen them before I think. Knew they were Hymenoptera but did not know any specifics. and I didn't associate them with velvet ants, also Hymenoptera sp.

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Re: 9 Red Velvet Ants 1 Japanese Wasp Nest in Garden

A few days ago the cicadas started buzzing again. Today we found another red velvet ant. I have it on video this time click the link.

https://www.facebook.com/gary.weaver.5070/videos/270853913413892/

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Re: 9 Red Velvet Ants 1 Japanese Wasp Nest in Garden

Uh oh Gary, I can't access it -- the link takes you to a Facebook login page.
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Re: 9 Red Velvet Ants 1 Japanese Wasp Nest in Garden

applestar wrote:Uh oh Gary, I can't access it -- the link takes you to a Facebook login page.


I uploaded the video to Facebook then copied and pasted the link here. You probably need to log into Facebook to watch the video. I don't use photo bucket anymore it has turned into a nightmare of advertisements that is extremely slow and hard to use.

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Re: 9 Red Velvet Ants 1 Japanese Wasp Nest in Garden

Another Red Velvet Ant. This is the first Red Velvet Ant I have seen in the morning, all others were seen in the evening when sun was low in the sky and temperature had dropped about 15 degrees cooler than mid day. I put a 1 pint mason jar over this one to get pictures. Video will not focus that close up to get good video. This is number 11, no telling how many Red Velvet Ant i did not see, could have been 30, 50, maybe 100. Last week when the cicada stopped buzzing and cicada killer wasps were gone and I had not seen a Red Velvet Ants for several days I thought the cycle was over and they were all gone. Today the trees or buzzing with 1000s of cicadas again. Red Velvet Ants must be sensitive to heat I put the mason jar over the Red Velvet Ant in about 3 minutes it was in a panic to get out running very fast all over and trying to climb the side of the jar then few minutes later it was dead. My thermometer says 82 degrees, in side the jar is hotter. I bet that is why I have never seen any Red Velvet Ants in the hottest part of the day.

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Re: 9 Red Velvet Ants 1 Japanese Wasp Nest in Garden

They might be beneficial, but I would not want those things close to where I walk bare foot. From what I read, they both fall into the category of wishing-you-dead kinds of venomous stings.

I would have already mixed up the rust and aluminum and cooked those holes well past well done.
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