Journal of Animal Behaviour and Biometeorology
Journal of Animal Behaviour and Biometeorology
Research Article Open Access

Mutillidae (Hymenoptera) from Essex Co., Virginia: monthly changes in abundance and richness

Roberto Alejandro Cambra, Pedro Reck Bartholomay, Kevin Andrew Williams, David Smith, Yostin Jesús Añino Ramos

Downloads: 1
Views: 789


We analyzed the abundance and richness of velvet ants (Hymenoptera: Mutillidae) in Essex County, Virginia, USA. Also, to compare the species list in this study with the known diversity in the state of Virginia, we examined literature searches and collection inventories. Mutillidae specimens in Essex were sampled from March 26 to November 5, 1991, using 13 Malaise traps. The monthly abundance of each genus was then compared using Rayleigh and Mardia-Watson-Wheeler tests. Fieldwork yielded a total of 3302 specimens, distributed in 25 species, eight genera (Dasymutilla Ashmead, Ephuta Say, Lomachaeta Mickel, Myrmosa Latreille, Photomorphus Viereck, Pseudomethoca Ashmead, Sphaeropthalma Blake, and Timulla Ashmead), and three subfamilies (Myrmosinae, Mutillinae, and Sphaeropthalminae). The four most abundant genera were Pseudomethoca (789 specimens, four species), Myrmosa (778 specimens, one species), Ephuta (774 specimens, five species), Sphaeropthalma (662 specimens, one species). Myrmosa unicolor Say and Sphaeropthalma pensylvanica (Lepeletier) were the most abundant species, representing 44% of the collected specimens. The genera analyzed presented significant monthly abundance values, with maximum abundance values in June for Sphaeropthalma, July for Timulla, Dasymutilla, Myrmosa, and Photomorphus; August for Ephuta; and September for Pseudomethoca. Genera with similar patterns are Timulla-Dasymutilla, Timulla-Photomorphus, and Dasymutilla-Photomorphus. The 25 species recorded from Essex County in this study constitute 78.1% of the 32 species recorded from the state of Virginia. We concluded that the Mutillidae from Essex Co. displays large variations in abundance, with peaks of activity occurring from June to September. Although our study did not sample environmental variables, the monthly activity patterns observed are correlated with temperature patterns observed for Essex Co. in 1991. Finally, Sphaerophthalma (sic!) (Photomorphus) rubroscutellatus Bradley was recognized to be a junior synonym of Photomorphus impar (Melander).


checklist, ecology, Nearctic velvet ants, taxonomy


Agostinelli C, Lund U (2017) R package circular: Circular Statistics (version 0.4-93). Available in:

Añino YJ, Cambra RA, Windsor DM, Williams KA, Bartholomay PR, Sánchez V, Quintero D (2020) Seasonal and annual abundance of Ephuta wasp (Hymenoptera: Mutillidae) in Panama. Revista de Biología Tropical 68:573-579.

Aranda R, Graciolli G (2016) Environmental heterogeneity in parasitoid-host interaction for Mutillidae (Hymenoptera: Apocrita). Environmental Entomology 45:1–8. doi: 10.1093/ee/nvw098

Batschelet E (1981) Circular Statistics in Biology. 1st edn. Academic Press, London, United Kingdom, 371 pp.

Boehme NF, Tanner DA, Williams KA, Pitts JP (2012) Faunal study of the velvet ants (Hymenoptera: Mutillidae) and their activity patterns and habitat preference at Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Nye County, Nevada, USA. Zootaxa 3587:1-45.

Brabant CM, Young DK (2010) An annotated checklist of Wisconsin Mutillidae (Hymenoptera). The Great Lakes Entomologist 43:34-44.

Brabant CM, Williams KA, Pitts JP (2010) True females of the subgenus Photomorphina Schuster (Hymenoptera: Mutillidae). Zootaxa 2529:58-68.

Brothers DJ, Lelej A (2017) Phylogeny and higher classification of Mutillidae (Hymenoptera) based on morphological reanalyses. Journal of Hymenoptera Research 60:1-97. doi: 10.3897/jhr.60.20091

Brothers DJ, Lelej AS, Williams KA (2022) Clarification of the status of Paraferreola Šustera, 1912 as an available genus name in Pompilidae, and the identity of Sphex ursus Fabricius, 1793 in Mutillidae (Hymenoptera). Journal of Hymenoptera Research 91:429-444. DOI: 10.3897/jhr.91.84964

Cambra RA, Williams KA, Quintero D, Windsor DM, Pickering J, Saavedra D (2018) Dasymutilla Ashmead (Hymenoptera, Mutillidae) in Panama: new species, sex associations and seasonal flight activity. Insecta Mundi 0608:1-17.

Cambra RA, Queiros CN, De Deus JPA, Williams KA, Bartholomay PR, Iantas J, Nether MC, Nishida K, Añino YJ, Saavedra D, Buschini MLT (2021) Description of the male of Xystromutilla bucki Suárez, 1960 (Hymenoptera, Mutillidae), including new information on the biology of the genus. ZooKeys 1011:73-84. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.1011.60944

Deyrup M, Manley DG (1990) Seasonal flight activity of male velvet ants (Hymenoptera: Mutillidae) in South Florida. Entomological News 101:99-108.

Krombein KV (1979) Superfamily Scoloidea. In: Krombein KV, Hurd PD, Smith DR, Burks BD (eds) Catalog of Hymenoptera in America north of Mexico. Volume 2. Washington, D.C., Smithsonian Institution Press, p. 1253-1321.

Liu Z, Ronquist F, Nordlander G (2007) The Cynipoid genus Paramblynotus: revision, phylogeny, and historical biogeography (Hymenoptera: Liopteridae). Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 304:1-151.

Lund U, Agostinelli C (2018) CircStats: Circular Statistics, from “Topics in Circular Statistics”. Available in: Accessed on: July 13, 2021.

Mendoza-Sagrera I (2020) Estadística circular aplicada a la Ecología. Ecosistemas 29:1995. doi: 10.7818/ECOS.1995

Mickel CE (1939) A monograph of the Neotropical mutillid genus Hoplomutilla Ashmead (Hymenoptera: Mutillidae). Revista de Entomologia, Rio de Janeiro 10:337-403.

Pilgrim EM, Williams KA, Manley DG, Pitts JP (2009) Addressing the Dasymutilla quadriguttata species-group and species-complex (Hymenoptera: Mutillidae): Several distinct species or a single, morphologically variable species? Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 82:231-249.

Pitts JP, Manley DG (2004) A revision of Lomachaeta Mickel, with a new species of Smicromutilla Mickel (Hymenoptera: Mutillidae). Zootaxa 474:1-27.

Pitts JP, Manley DG (2007) Synonymy of Ephuta tentativa Schuster and E. pauxilla Bradley (Hymenoptera: Mutillidae). Journal of Entomological Science 42:341-344.

R Core Team (2019) R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria.

Saavedra D (2014) Diversidad y abundancia de avispas Mutillidae (Hymenoptera) en Isla Barro Colorado, Provincia de Panamá, Panamá. Dissertation, Universidad de Panamá, Panamá.

Sadler EA, Pitts JP, Wilson JS (2017) Nocturnal Velvet Ants (Hymenoptera: Mutillidae) of Joshua Tree National Park, Riverside County, California with the description of three new species. Zootaxa 4319:329-367.

Townes HK (1972) A light-weight Malaise trap. Entomological News 89:239-247.

Williams KA, Cambra RA, Bartholomay PR, Luz DR, Quintero D, Pitts JP (2019) Review of the genus Lomachaeta Mickel, 1936 (Hymenoptera: Mutillidae) with new species and sex associations. Zootaxa 4564:101-136.

Zar JH (1999) Biostatistical Analysis. 4th edn. New Jersey, Prentice Hall, 663 pp.

Submitted date:

Reviewed date:

Accepted date:

634960e8a953950ae4541c23 jabbnet Articles
Links & Downloads

J. Anim. Behav. Biometeorol.

Share this page
Page Sections