This is the larger of the two species of British mutillids (the other being Smicromyrme rufipes). Unlike many aculeate wasps, the female is apterous, a feature which gives it an ant-like appearance, and leads to its being called a 'velvet ant'. The male, however, is fully winged and capable of sustained flight.
Mutilla europaea has a largely disjunct distribution within Britain, being widespread in southern England, absent from much of central England and apparently from the whole of Wales, but found sporadically in northern England and in central Scotland. There are no records from Ireland. The species may be decreasing, and the late G M Spooner (pers. comm.) considered it to be extinct in Cornwall.