Hot spots around the world -- Diversity, density, and longevity of mutillid wasps
Justin O. Schmidt, firstname.lastname@example.org, Southwestern Biological Institute, 1961 W. Brichta Dr, Tucson, AZ
Mutillids are hardy, often colorful, wasps found throughout most of the world and comprising roughly 8000 species. They are typically viewed as familiar, but not abundant, members of dry open or sandy areas. Additionally they are present, albeit infrequently seen, in a variety of other habitats. The females are wingless and parasitic on bees and aculeate wasps. The presence and numerical abundances mutillid species and in an area indicates the general abundance and diversity of their host wasps and bees, and, thereby, provides a measure of the overall health, stability, and diversity of the ecosystem. Nevertheless, investigations of population dynamics, ecology, behavior and biodiversity of mutillid wasps are scarce in the literature. Reasons for this scarcity are uncertain, though factors might include the general low numbers of individuals observed in most areas and the predilection of researchers to focus on taxonomic studies. I report here on small but very diverse areas from opposite sides of the world, Africa and the US, that are teeming with both numbers and species of mutillids. In these cases the areas are characterized as being relatively undisturbed and intact ecosystems. The seasonal presence and diversity of species has been surveyed for several years in one area and data including longevity and life history strategies of the various species will be presented. Mutillid wasps offer an underutilized opportunity to assessing the ecological health of a habitat.
Species 1: Hymenoptera Mutillidae Dasymutillagloriosa (velvet ant) Species 2: Hymenoptera Mutillidae Pseudomethocapropinqua (velvet ant) Species 3: Hymenoptera Mutillidae Dasymutillathetis (velvet ant)