These are one of the larger wasps in the world with females getting up to two inches in length and having large blue-black muscular bodies with bright orange wings. Quite a sight to behold! The males have straight antennae, while the females have curved. Don’t rely on that as they can straighten them out. The female’s sting is particularly painful.
They prey on Tarantulas. The female after mating and ready to lay an egg makes a burrow in the ground with her jaws and legs. She may also use a pre-existing burrow, rodent burrow, or crack in the soil, or even the tarantula’s burrow. This will be the nest. She then goes in search of a tarantula. Once found she lands and engages it in battle. She stings it between the legs paralyzing the tarantula so she can drag it to her nest. Once in place she will lay a single egg on the spider and then cover the nest. Later when her larva hatches from the egg it will have “fresh meat” to feed on before pupating.
These wasps can be seen flying over grasslands and chaparral, anywhere tarantulas are found. During times when not egg-laying they will feed on flowers and honeydew from aphids. A spectacular looking wasp with amazing behaviors!
Feature Image: To the victor go the spoils by Marc Briggs All Rights Reserves
Description: A female Tarantula Hawk wasp prepares to drag it’s prey into a burrow. Once there, it will lay a single egg on the abdomen of the spider. The larva will dig into the spider and eat it from the inside out, finally pupating and hatching into an adult. If you find one of these in the wild, you best let it be. The sting of the Tarantula Hawk is one of the most painful of any insect!