What is this?
I found this bug (dead) on the ground while camping at a lake in the dry central valley of California last August. It is far larger than a quarter and has a blue iridescent shine. It appears to have a small stinger and the curly antenae lead me to believe it is some kind of hornet. I have never seen anything like it here in CA! (It has a piece of straw hanging out if its mouth, which was kind of funny!) Can you tell me what it is and if they are normally seen in this region?
You found a dead female Tarantula Hawk genus Pepsis. They are found in arid regions of California. Females are recognized by their curved antennae. They are easily recognizeable by their blue-black bodies and orange wings. Large females can grow to two inches, though we have seen even larger ones in Baja California Norte, Mexico. The female locates a tarantula, stings it to paralyze it, drags it to a burrow and lays a single egg on it. The egg hatches and the larva feeds on the still living tarantula, a fresh food supply. The females can also deliver a painful sting to people.