"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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