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Mutillid Wasp (Pseudomethocha oculata)

Detailing the identifying qualities of the Mutillid Wasp, including physical features and territorial reach.

 Updated: 1/24/2014; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Mutillid Wasp  
Picture of Mutillid-Wasp

The female Mutillid Wasp is a cunning ant-mimic. This solitary wasp can issue one of the most painful insect stings known to humans.

Though they look and act like ants, the solitary wasps known as Velvet Ants are anything but. Wingless females are capable of rendering terribly painful stings, leaving human victims bewildered. Examining the antennae of a Velvet Ant will help distinguish it from a true ant. Ant antennae bend in a sharp 'elbow' while this wasp's antennae do not.

Adults drink nectar and water. Their larvae, however, are fantastic parasitic predators. The eggs of a Velvet Ant are laid near the eggs of other bees, wasps, or even flies. They hatch and quickly begin to devour the unsuspecting hosts.

This particular species is not as hairy as typical Velvet Ants (see Red Velvet Ant and Thistle Down Velvet Ant for comparison). They are extremely tiny wasps and look more like real ants than other members of the Mutillidae family.

Mutillid Wasp Information

Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Common Name: Mutillid Wasp
Scientific Name: Pseudomethocha oculata
Other Name(s): Velvet Ant

Taxonomy Hierarchy

 Arrow graphic Kingdom: Animalia
  Arrow graphic Phylum: Arthropoda
   Arrow graphic Class: Insecta
    Arrow graphic Order: Hymenoptera
     Arrow graphic Family: Mutillidae
      Arrow graphic Genus: Pseudomethocha
       Arrow graphic Species: oculata

Size, Identifying Tags and Territorial Reach

Size (Adult, Length): Size (Adult, Length): 3 mm to 8 mm (0.117 inches to 0.312 inches)
Identifying Colors: red, yellow, black, brown
Additional Descriptors: stinging, biting, harmful, stinger, ant, bands, hairless

North American Territorial Reach (Though Not Limited To): Alabama; Arizona; California; Florida; Georgia; Louisiana; Mississippi; Texas

A Note About Territorial Reach: Keep in mind that an insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above. Insects are driven by environmental factors, food supplies and mating patterns and do not nescessarily work within hard-and-fast territorial lines like we humans do.

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