The velvet ant has one of the most painful stings of all insects. So painful in fact, it’s nicknamed the “cow killer” – although there’s never actually been a report of them killing cows.
Its stinger is about as long as its abdomen and features a bright red, fuzzy back as if to say “warning – stay the hell away.” But never one to adhere to such warnings, Coyote Peterson of the Brave Wilderness YouTube channel heads to the Sonoran Desert in Arizona and voluntarily gives this insect a chance to release its wrath on his arm. Needless to say, it looks as much fun as you would expect.
The term velvet ant is an umbrella term that encompasses over 300 species, a handful of which live in the southern desert terrains of the United States. Despite the name, they aren’t ants, but a species of wingless ground wasp. Only the females are equipped with stingers, since it's actually a modified egg-laying organ called an ovipositor, according to BBC Earth. Coyote describes the pain as the worst sting he’s ever encountered, which is a pretty big claim considering he’s previously been stung or bitten by fire ants, giant leaf cutter ants, and harvester ants.
Enjoy the painful viewing below.