Are rare velvet ants (Hymenoptera: Mutillidae) to feed on extrafloral nectar?

Eduardo Soares Calixto, Bruno Sousa-Lopes, Kleber Del-Claro


The family Mutillidae (Hymenoptera) is represented by solitary aculeate wasps with high sexual dimorphism. The adult females are wingless and usually immature parasitoids of other insects and males are most often winged and generally feed on nectar. There are few records in the literature of adults of mutillidae wasps feeding on extrafloral nectaries (EFNs) and still less in Brazil. Here, we report six fortuitous observations of mutillid wasps feeding on extrafloral nectar and their behavior in different plants in a reserve of cerrado sensu stricto, in Uberlândia, Brazil. We observed six species of mutillid wasps: Traumatomutilla sp. and Traumatomutilla latevittata feeding on EFNs of Stryphnodendron polyphyllum, Hoplocrates sp. feeding on the EFNs of Eriotheca gracilipes,Timulla sp. feeding on the EFNs of Banisteriopsis malifolia, Hoplomutilla sp. feeding on the EFNs of Qualea grandiflora and an unidentified male species in Qualea multiflora. All mutillid wasps showed similar behavior on the plants. They quickly climbed on to the plant and foraged over with frequent movements of the antennas until they found the EFNs. We suggest that it is not a fortuitous observations, neither rare. We are just not looking with the needed attention to EFNs. 


Mutillid wasps, extrafloral nectaries, insect-plant interaction

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