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Ants Sawflies Bees and Wasps: Hymenoptera

Velvet Ant (mutilla Europaea): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: Velvet ants are brownish red with an iridescent blue-black abdomen marked with white bands. They measure 0.47 to 0.55 inches (12 to 14 millimeters) in length. Females are wingless and resemble ants, but the males have wings. Both appear as if their bodies are covered with hair.

Geographic range: This species is found in Europe.

Habitat: Adult females are usually on the ground in open, sandy habitats.

Diet: Adult velvet ants drink nectar, while the larvae eat pollen and nectar, as well as the larvae and pupae of bumblebees.

Behavior and reproduction: Velvet ants mate in the air, with the winged male carrying the wingless female. Females crawl into the underground nests of bumblebees and lay their eggs. Mature velvet ant larvae spin their cocoons inside bumblebee pupal cells.

Female velvet ants can inflict an incredibly painful sting. (Jane Burton/Bruce Coleman Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

Velvet ants and people: Females inflict an incredibly painful sting and are sometimes considered minor pests because they attack bumblebees.

Conservation status: This species is not considered endangered or threatened. ∎

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceInsects and SpidersAnts Sawflies Bees and Wasps: Hymenoptera - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Hymenopterans And People, Conservation Status, Honeybee (apis Mellifera): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT