Sunday, September 6, 2009

Tarantula Hawk

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.

See Also:

Desert USA amusing description and video

1 comment:

  1. Of 78 species professor Justin Schmidt personally subjected himself to stings, The tarantula hawk was #2 right behind the bullet ant. See


Comments let me know to keep on sharing what's happening at the Dipper Ranch. You can either use an existing account or choose "Anonymous" by clicking the arrow after the "Comment As" box. Your comment will appear after a delay to allow screening of spam.