Velvet Ants Are All Over Mid Missouri, So Wear Your Shoes Outside
You've probably heard about the Velvet Ants, otherwise known as "cow killers".
Well, they're technically not ants, they're more of a part of the wasp family, without wings. The females are red and black, and the males are brown and black. They don't really live in hives or big groups, and they're not normally aggressive. Velvet Ants burrow in hornet or ground nesting bee nests, so the nests cannot be easily avoided.
The heat and dry weather bring them out in droves. According to the MDC, though, they can be a bother:
Velvet ants are not aggressive, but they will sting if held or if stepped on with bare feet. The stinger is extraordinarily long, and the sting is excruciating, hence the popular name “cow killer.” (A 1996 study showed that, oddly enough, their venom is comparatively less toxic than that of, say harvester ants and honeybees.)
So if you're outside without shoes and happen to step on one, oh boy. It's not as poisonous as some other bugs, but it hurts like all get out. I've heard reports of the sting lasting as much as a half an hour, and another person said they stepped on one and had to use crutches for a week.
I know, it's summer, it's hot. You wanna walk on the grass in your bare feet. But... maybe you should err on the side of caution this time. Your feet will probably thank you. And you don't wanna be unable to walk without pain when the Missouri State Fair is here! That's like, peak walking around time. Keep on your shoes and make sure the kiddos do it, too. You know kids are bad about that kind of thing, and you'd hate for them to get stung.