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Family Mutillidae - Velvet Ants

Velvet ant - Dasymutilla klugii Velvet ant   - Dasymutilla - female Mutillidae -? - Dasymutilla - male Mutillid - Pseudomethoca - female Dasymutilla quadriguttata Sphaeropthalminae Mutillidae - Pseudomethoca Nocturnal Velvet Ant
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
Solitary Ants
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.
~480 spp. in our area(1); about 8,000 spp. in 230 genera/subgenera worldwide (Hertz 2009)
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(2) (more here)
Key to genera in(3); guide to SC fauna in(4)
Worldwide, mostly in drier areas; in NA, mostly southwestern
Xeric habitats(2)
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)(2)
Can give an excruciating sting if handled.
See Also
Bradynobaenidae - Bradynobaenid Wasps
Scoliidae - Scoliid Wasps
Formicidae - ants
Internet References
Fact sheet (Hertz 2007-2013)(5)
Works Cited
1.American Insects: A Handbook of the Insects of America North of Mexico
Ross H. Arnett. 2000. CRC Press.
2.Evolution of the Insects
David Grimaldi and Michael S. Engel. 2005.
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.The velvet ants (Hymenoptera: Mutillidae) of South Carolina
Manley D.G. 1991. South Carolina Agricultural Experiment Station Tech. Bull. 1100, 55 pp.
5.University of Florida: Featured Creatures