Explanation of Names
Mutilla may be related to Latin mutilus 'maimed'; unclear.
"Velvet Ant" refers to the hairy nature and the body form like that of ants.
ca. 480 spp. in our area(1)
; about 8,000 spp. in 230 genera/subgenera worldwide (Hertz 2009
Females wingless, very hairy, and may look like large ants but have no node (bump) on "waist" between abdomen and thorax (ants have one or two)
Males winged, less hairy, look more like typical wasps, larger than females
The sexual dimorphism caused grave taxonomic confusion: genders are difficult to associate and males & females of a single sp. often get placed in separate genera(2)
worldwide, mostly in drier areas; in NA, mostly southwestern
Adults (males at least) are observed taking nectar.
of immature insects, esp. bees and solitary wasps (also flies, limacodid moths, beetles, and cockroaches)(2)
can give an excruciating sting if handled
Manley D. G. 1991, The velvet ants (Hymenoptera: Mutillidae) of South Carolina. South Carolina Agricultural Experiment Station Tech. Bull. 1100, 55 pp.
Manley, D.G., and Pitts, J.P. A Key to Genera and Subgenera of Mutillidae (Hymenoptera) in America North of Mexico with Description of a New Genus. J. HYM. RES. Vol. 11(1), 2002, pp. 72-100 (BHL Link