The tarantula wasp or “tarantula hawk,” receives its name because of its ability to take down one of the largest known spiders, the tarantula. This wasp has a stinger that ranks second for the most painful insect sting in the world. In fact, females are both the sting producers and hunters; males are incapable of doing either.
Possessing vibrant wings, dark armored bodies and a size varying around 2 inches in length, tarantula wasps can easily be seen by passing humans and curious animals. Typically, they are not a threat. Its unusual bold color is used as a signal that it may be poisonous or dangerous, causing humans and animals to leave it alone.
Being extreme hunters for their larvae’s benefit, impregnated females that are ready to produce will immediately begin tracking for a tarantula. They patrol the ground looking for an occupied burrow.
Eventually the female finds and attacks an unsuspecting tarantula. They will both struggle until one escapes or loses. If successfully stung, the tarantula is paralyzed within seconds. The wasp then drags the tarantula away to be stored in a burrow where she will lay an egg on or inside the tarantula. She then buries the entrance of the borrow leaving the trapped tarantula behind. Progressively, it will be devoured by the larvae, either dying from being torn through the abdomen or from losing its fluids, slowly drank away by the larvae.
After a month or so, the fully grown larvae finish the remaining liquids and organs of the spider and dig their way out of the burrow.
Adults do not feed on the tarantula, but nourish themselves from juices of available fruits, flower nectar and pollen.
Addie T. Lindsay, 17, is an accomplished writer and a photographer of wildlife creatures big and small. She can be contacted at CritterChatter@live.com.