Tarantula Wasp in Florida?
I was sunbathing near Cape Canaveral on a sunny condominium balcony when I saw this guy on the ceiling above me. At first I thought it was a pretty moth, but it’s features looked too hard. I saw pictures on your site and elsewhere on the internet that make me think this is Tarantula wasp, but in Florida? Everything about Tarantula wasps says these guys live in the arid southwest. Can you tell what bug this is and whether I should be nervous sunbathing with it hanging over my head?
This sure looks like a Tarantula Hawk, BUT, according to Bugguide, only Pepsis elegans inhabits the East. Pepsis elegans can have black or orange wings, BUT has orange antennae. Your photo depicts black antennae. Florida is a state notorious for imported insects. There are Tarantula Hawks in the tropics. It is possible strong winds blew this specimen in from elsewhere. Your photo is not the best quality, so it is difficult to say for sure.
Correction: December 2, 2008
Looks like a Spotted Oleander Caterpillar Moth, Empyreuma affinis (http://bugguide.net/node/view/ 10160 ) — from a group known as the “Wasp Moths”!
Related moths in the genus Horama are even more convincing wasp mimics.
Entomology student in Sarasota, Florida