Encyclopedia of Entomology

2008 Edition
| Editors: John L. Capinera

Velvet Ants (Hymenoptera: Mutillidae)

  • Donald G. Manley
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-6359-6_3952

Because of their generally bright colors and conspicuous appearance, velvet ants have long been favorite targets of insect collectors. Thus, it is with some degree of surprise that so little is known about them and their biology. Female mutillids, which are much more frequently observed than males, generally look very much like ants. They are wingless and can be seen scurrying about on the ground. They are, however, actually wasps. Their ant-like appearance, coupled with the fact that they are covered by a dense pubescence (hairs), has led to the common name of velvet ants.

Linnaeus included eight species of mutillids in his tenth edition of Systema Naturae in 1758. By the latter part of the nineteenth century, an estimated 3,500 to 4,000 species had been described, nearly all of which were included in the genus Mutilla Linnaeus. It was not until near the beginning of the twentieth century that many new genera were established.

The family Mutillidae is found worldwide but is...

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References

  1. Brothers DJ (1975) Phylogeny and classification of the aculeate Hymenoptera, with special reference to Mutillidae. Univ Kansas Sci Bull 50:483–648Google Scholar
  2. Brothers DJ (1993) Family Mutillidae. In: Goulet H, Huber JT (eds) Hymenoptera of the world: an identification guide to the families. Centre for Land and Biological Resources Research, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, pp 188–203Google Scholar
  3. Evans HE, West Eberhard MJ (1970) The wasps. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, MIGoogle Scholar
  4. Manley DG (2000) Defense adaptations in velvet ants (Hymenoptera: Mutillidae) and their possible selective pressures. In: Austin AD, Dowton M (eds) Hymenoptera: evolution, biodiversity and biological control. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood VIC, Australia, pp 285–289Google Scholar
  5. Mickel CE (1928) Biological and taxonomic investigations of the Mutillid wasps. US Natl Mus Bull 143:1–351Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donald G. Manley
    • 1
  1. 1.Clemson UniversityFlorenceUSA