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Family Mutillidae - Velvet Ants

Velvet Ant - Pseudomethoca anthracina - male Timulla sp.? any chance of species? - Timulla dubitata - female Insect - Dasymutilla quadriguttata Wasp 6 - Dasymutilla scaevola Dasymutilla - Velvet ant. ? - Dasymutilla - male Female, Thistledown Velvet Ant? - Dasymutilla gloriosa - female 3031511 Mutillid Orange Mojave pitfall wasp - male
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)
6-30 mm
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) (more here)
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
Life Cycle
Ectoparasitoids 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
Print References
Internet References
Fact sheet (Hertz 2013)(11)
Works Cited
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.
3.A key to genera and subgenera of Mutillidae (Hymenoptera) in America North of Mexico with description of a new genus
Manley D.G., Pitts J.P. 2002. J. Hym. Res. 11: 72-100.
4.Keys to nearctic Velvet Ants of the genus Dasymutilla Ashmead (Hymenoptera: Mutillidae), with notes on taxonomic changes...
Manley D.G. , Williams K.A., Pitts J.P. 2020. Proc. Ent Soc. Wash. 122: 335-414.
5.Revision of Odontophotopsis Viereck (Hymenoptera: Mutillidae), Part 1, with a description of a new Genus Laminatilla
James M. Pitts. 2007. Zootaxa 1619(1): 1-43.
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.
10.Phylogeny and higher classification of Mutillidae (Hymenoptera) based on morphological reanalyses
Brothers D.J., Lelej A.S. 2017. J. Hymenopt. Res. 60: 1-97.
11.University of Florida: Featured Creatures