Velvet Ants (Hymenoptera: Mutillidae)
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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