Bugman! Help! She/he’s a beauty! What is it?!
Bugman (or woman):
My girlfriend and I came across this (pic attached) amazing orange creature while hiking around the Little Grand Canyon in the Shawnee National Forest, which is located in Jackson County, Illinois. It sort of ambled about in a friendly way on the ground while we took pix and followed. I didn’t touch him; I just held my finger there in the photo for scale. This really was a gorgeous bug — his orange and black hairs were amazing! Later that day, while out on a rock outcropping overlooking the canyon, we also saw GIGANTIC wasp with a pretty cool, long, drape-y ovipositor. Is that what it’s called? She gave us a bit of a start, coming out of nowhere and heading straight for us! Anyway, can you help us identify this little orange fuzzy friend? Thanks a lot!
Dillon and Claudia

Hi Dillon and Claudia,
She is a Velvet Ant, a flightless female wasp reputed to have a painful sting, hence the common name of Cow Killer as the sting is supposedly painful enough to kill a cow. The other wasp you saw may have been a Giant Ichneumon.

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