What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Hi Bugman,
I hope you can help explain what’s going on in this picture. I was on top of the mountain taking sunset photos when luckily I looked down and saw what looked like a giant wasp dragging a trantula. The wasp was walking backward. Both insects were very much alive. I thought I read that their is some flying insect that captures live prey and then pulls it underground to lay eggs on it and the young feed off the paralyzed captive. I followed this pair until they disappeared into the long grass. Could you please tell me if that is indeed a wasp and what it plans for the spider? I live in Costa Rica. Thanks,

hi Jordan,
The information you have heard is basically correct. Tarantula Hawks are large wasps in the genus Pepsis found in the Americas. The female wasp stings and parazyzes a Tarantula and drags it into a burrow where she lays an egg. The young wasp larva hatches and has a fresh food supply, eating the Tarantula alive. Thanks for the awesome photo.

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Costa Rica

4 Responses to Tarantula Hawk with prey in Costa Rica

  1. Pierce Johnston says:

    Can you tell me what kind of tarantula is in the picture? We saw one like it here in Costa Rica and have not been able to identify it.

    • bugman says:

      We don’t know much about identifying Tarantulas to the species level, but perhaps one of our readers will be able to help.

  2. Rick West says:

    My colleagues and I are writing a scientific paper on new spider host records of pompilid (spider) wasps for North, Central and South America.

    We found Jordan’s image on this site and would like to make contact with Jordan for more details, as well as possibly use his image and host data in our paper.

    Looking at the theraphosid (tarantula) spider in the image, without examining it in hand, from my experience of theraphosid spiders in Costa Rica, my assumption is that this was found in Guanacaste Prov. and the theraphosid spider ‘might be’ a female Aphonopelma cf crinirufum (Valerio, 1980).


    • bugman says:

      Dear Rick,
      This is a ten year old posting and we don’t know how to contact Jordan at this point, however, our standard submission form does have a statement that reads: “By submitting an identification request and/or photo(s), you give WhatsThatBug.com permission to use your words and image(s) on their website and other WhatsThatBug.com publications.” We frequently grant permission to use images in scientific publications. With that stated, this image is archived on a different hard drive than what we are currently using and we might need a bit of time to locate a higher resolution image, and we can’t even guarantee that we will have a higher resolution image. We will attempt to locate that later in the week.

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