cow killer ants
I recently found what appeared to be a large (about 1 " long) fuzzy red and black ant in my backyard. In researching it on the internet I learned that it is actually a wasp which enters bumble bee nests underground and destroys the bees, however, it is known as a "cow killer ant" I live in Poolesville, MD and have lived here for more than 40 years and have never seen this insect before. Is this "ant" normally found in this area. Should I release it or destroy it?
Montgomery County Maryland
The cow killer ant is native to this area, however, it is rarely seen--which is probably a good thing. As you probably learned from your reading, the wasp (for it is actually a wasp) is not aggressive, but the female sting packs quite a wallop. So much so that the pain is enough to kill a cow. Seriously, you don't want to mess with this one. Release it--carefully!-- as it has its part to play in the natural environment, but you don't need to encourage it!
Here is a "relatively" humorous take on it: http://lancaster.unl.edu/pest/resources/cowkiller.shtml