Velvet Ants Insect

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The European Velvet ants Insect, Mutilla europaea, is a parasite whose larvae develop inside bumblebee nests. The females can be found running around on the ground, in leaf litter or on tree trunks with an agitated, antlike gait. Body length 0.5 inches (13 mm).

Velvet ants Insect Facts:

  • Common name: Velvet ants
  • Family: Mutillidae
  • Suborder: Apocrita
  • Order: Hymenoptera
  • Class/subphylum: Insecta/Hexapoda
  • Number of species: About 5,000 (about 450 Us.)
  • Size: From about 0.2 in (5 mm) to about 1 in (2.5 cm)

Key features: Body more sturdily built than in real ants (Formicidae), with less of a “waist densely covered in hair, usually brightly colored, often black and white or black and orange; females wingless, males fully winged, unlike ants, antennae are not elbowed; female has powerful sting

Habits: Females usually seen running on open ground, less often across vegetation or up tree trunks, males usually found feeding on flowers

Breeding: Males are often much larger than the wingless females and carry them off in a mating flight, females search for nests of bees and wasps in which to lay their eggs

Diet: Adults normally feed on nectar, but females may attack other bees2 and wasps for food; larvae feed on larvae and pupae of bees, wasps, and flies

Habitat: Most often found running on the ground in open, dry places such as deserts, in the US. Most species restricted to the arid zones of the Southwest also found in rain forests, meadows, and on mountains

Distribution: Worldwide, but uncommon in cooler temperate zones

Velvet ants Insect Photos:

Velvet Ant Insect photo

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