Sunday, September 6, 2009
Got lucky today and had a camera when I saw another tarantula hawk. It could be either a Hemipepsis or a Pepsis species. A knowledgeable entomologist would be able to tell primarily by close examination of the vein pattern on the wings. This large wasp was frantically searching the ground and difficult to photograph.
I was beginning to wonder how many tarantulas live at the Dipper Ranch when I read that tarantula hawks also attack other large spiders. It seems like a lot of work to sniff out, challenge, sting and drag a large spider underground for one egg. I wonder how many total eggs a female tarantula hawk lays and thus how many spiders it must attack. No wonder they always seem so busy.
Turns out the sting of a tarantula hawk is quite painful to humans, even more so than the infamous bite of a tarantula. The bright orange wings, aposematic coloring, are a warning to predators of dire consequences. While I was trotting behind a tarantula hawk last week, my cat came up for a friendly rub, then charged at the bright, flickering bug. I pulled him back just in time. Cats may not see red colors very well.
Desert USA amusing description and video