February 08, 2006

Texas Tarantula Hawk

I finally found out what that waspy thing was. My daughter pulled out a 3-D Bug book the other day and handed it to me to show me something... the book slipped and she lost her page - and the book flipped open to the page about Tarantula Hawks! I immediately knew it was the bug I was looking for! How cool is God?! So... Texas has some really freaky bugs.

"TARANTULA HAWK WASPS" - Family POMPILIDAE
This group of wasps includes some of the largest stinging insects in the world, and reportedly some of the most painful to be stung by, mostly due to the size of the sting itself and the volume of venom injected. Normally, use of this sting is reserved for their prey, which the venom paralyzes, but if mishandled by a person, they will use it in self-defense. They can be found essentially anywhere tarantulas and trap-door spiders occur, with the greatest abundance in the desert Southwest. Most SW species are black with metallic bluish highlights and orange wings, but species with black wings occur. There are two genera, Pepsis and Hemipepsis, which are very difficult to separate (subtle features of wing venation), but almost identical in biology. These wasps commonly visit flowers, especially milkweeds, for nectar, as this is essentially all the adult wasps feed on. The males are generally more often encountered than females, and can be recognized by their longer, straighter antennae, while females have short and rather strongly curled antennae.

Info from Frequently Asked Questions About Insects.

Here's a better picture than mine... and let me tell you - these things are BIG and scary looking!!! Any wasp that would take down a fat, hairy tarantula is a force to be reckoned with!

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4 comments:

MonicaR said...

I am glad the mystery was solve and I hope that your neck is feeling better.

Sprittibee said...

Thanks Griz. :) *grin* I am a little stiff and bruised... but gaining mobility daily. I'm about to put on an ice pack and tackle some homeschooling. We started out a little late today since Daddy went to work at 10:30, and he let the kids stay up to watch a movie until after 11pm last night.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is a scary looking insect. I am a stay at home mom and I like to spend a lot of time outdoors with my 6 month old son. We have had Tarantula Hawks flying around in our backyard for weeks now and of course I would worry each time I saw one that it could sting one of us. Today, I finally did some research on the internet , on flying insects of west texas. I was glad to finally identify this flying insect and your web site helped me out. Thanks much : )

Sprittibee said...

Thanks for posting. Now you know you have Tarantulas in your back yard as well. :) It's OK... they are pretty calm and stick to themselves. It is rare to hear of anyone being bothered by them. They really are gentle giants.

 

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