World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Mutillidae

Article Id: WHEBN0000285708
Reproduction Date:

Title: Mutillidae  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Apocrita, Hymenoptera, Insecta in the 10th edition of Systema Naturae, Sclerogibbidae, Bethylidae
Collection:
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Mutillidae

Mutillidae
A female velvet ant.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Suborder: Apocrita
Superfamily: Vespoidea
Family: Mutillidae
Subfamilies

Mutillinae
Myrmillinae
Myrmosinae
Pseudophotopsidinae
Rhopalomutillinae
Sphaeropthalminae
Ticoplinae

The Mutillidae are a family of more than 3,000 species of wasps (despite the names) whose wingless females resemble large, hairy ants. Their common name velvet ant refers to their dense pile of hair which most often is bright scarlet or orange, but may also be black, white, silver, or gold. Black and white specimens are sometimes known as panda ants due to their hair coloration resembling that of the giant panda. Their bright colors serve as aposematic signals. They are known for their extremely painful stings, hence the common name cow killer or cow ant. Unlike real ants, they do not have drones, workers, and queens. However, velvet ants do exhibit haplodiploid sex determination similar to other members of the Hymenoptera, including Vespoidea.

Description

The exoskeleton of all velvet ants is unusually tough (to the point that some entomologists have reported difficulty piercing them with steel pins when attempting to mount them for display in cabinets). This characteristic allows them to successfully invade the nests of their prey and also helps them retain moisture. Like related families in the Vespoidea, males have wings but females uniformly are wingless. They exhibit extreme sexual dimorphism. The males and females are distinct enough in their morphology, often to make it very hard to decide whether or not a given male and female belong to the same species, unless they are captured while mating. In a few species the male carries the smaller female aloft while mating, which is also seen in the related family Tiphiidae.

In mutillids, as in all ovipositor; female mutillids have unusually long and maneuverable stingers. In both sexes, a structure called a stridulitrum on the metasoma is used to produce a squeaking or chirping sound when alarmed. Both sexes of mutillids also bear hair-lined grooves on the side of the metasoma called felt lines. Only one other vespoid family, the Bradynobaenidae, has felt lines, but the females have a distinct pronotum and an elongated ant-like petiole.

Behavior

Mature mutillids feed on nectar. Although some species are strictly nocturnal, females are often active during the day. Females of Tricholabiodes thisbe are sometimes active up to two hours before sunset. Guido Nonveiller (1963) hypothesized the Mutillidae are generally stenothermic and thermophilic; they may not avoid light, but rather are active during temperatures which usually occur only after sunset.

Life cycle

A female of Nemka viduata viduata (Pallas, 1773) looks for a nest of Bembix oculata to deposit her eggs.

Male mutillidae fly in search of females, and after mating the female then enters an insect nest, typically a ground-nesting bee or wasp burrow, and deposits one egg near each larva or pupa. Only a few species are known to parasitize other types of hosts; exceptions include the European velvet ant, Mutilla europaea, one of the only species that attacks social bees (e.g., Bombus), and the genus Pappognatha, whose hosts are tree-dwelling orchid bees. The mutillid larvae then develop as idiobiont ectoparasitoids, eventually killing their immobile larval/pupal hosts within a week or two.

Range

The 3,000-5,000 species of Mutillidae occur worldwide, mainly in the dry tropics. They are especially common, however, in desert and sandy areas, with most of the over 400 North American species found in the southwestern United States and adjacent parts of Mexico, with others found in generally sandy regions throughout the United States and Canada. They are common in the American mid-west.

References

  • A. S. Lelej Catalogue of the Mutillidae (Hymenoptera) of the Palaearctic Region (pdf)
  • J.H. Hunt. 1999. Trait mapping and salience in the evolution of eusocial vespid wasps. Evolution 53: 225-237 (pdf)
  • Lorus J. Milne, National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders (Audubon Society Field Guide) (Turtleback)(1980) Knopf. ISBN 0-394-50763-0.
  • Nonveiller, G. Catalogue of the Mutillidae, Myrmosidae and Bradynobaenidae of the Neotropical Region including Mexico (Insecta: Hymenoptera). SPB Academic Publishing bv, the Netherlands, pp. 1–150.

External links

}}}}}}} | {{#if: Mutillidae

| | 1=Category:Mutillidae

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.