Family Mutillidae - Velvet Ants
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Hymenoptera (Ants, Bees, Wasps and Sawflies)
No Taxon (Aculeata - Ants, Bees and Stinging Wasps)
Superfamily Pompiloidea (Spider Wasps, Velvet Ants and allies)
Family Mutillidae (Velvet Ants)
Other Common Names
Velvet Wasps, Solitary Ants
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
classification follows (1)
Explanation of Names
Mutillidae Latreille 1802
"Velvet Ant" refers to the hairy, ant-like body
~400 spp. in 18 genera our area(2)(3)(4)(5)
; >4,300 spp. in 210 genera total(6)
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(7)
Key to genera in (3)
; guide to SC fauna in (8)
Worldwide; in NA, mostly southwestern
mostly drier areas
Adults (males at least) are observed taking nectar
of immature insects, esp. bees and solitary wasps (also flies, limacodid moths, beetles, and cockroaches)(7)
Certain species (such as Dasymutilla occidentalis
and D. klugii
) can give a quite painful sting if handled. Sting pain intensity varies considerably between species; none of our species is medically significant.(9)
Terms "cow killer" and "cow ant" refer to one species only, D. occidentalis
; applying it elsewhere in incorrect
|1.||Phylogenomic inference of the higher classification of velvet ants (Hymenoptera: Mutillidae).|
Waldren, G.C., Sadler, E.A., Murray, E.A., Bossert, S., Danforth, B.N. & Pitts, J.P. 2023. Systematic Entomology.
|2.||Catalog of Hymenoptera in America North of Mexico|
Karl V. Krombein, Paul D. Hurd, Jr., David R. Smith, and B. D. Burks. 1979. Smithsonian Institution Press.
|6.||Order Hymenoptera. In: Zhang Z-Q (ed) Animal biodiversity: An outline of higher-level classif. and survey of taxonomic richness|
Aguiar AP, Deans AR, Engel MS, Forshage M, Huber JT, Jennings JT, Johnson NF, Lelej AS, Longino JT, Lohrmann V, Mikó I, Ohl M. 2013. Zootaxa 3703: 51–62.
|7.||Evolution of the Insects|
David Grimaldi and Michael S. Engel. 2005.
|8.||The velvet ants (Hymenoptera: Mutillidae) of South Carolina|
Manley D.G. 1991. South Carolina Agricultural Experiment Station Tech. Bull. 1100, 55 pp.
|9.||The Sting of the Wild: The Story of the Man Who Got Stung for Science|
Justin O. Schmidt. 2016. John Hopkins University Press: Baltimore, MD.