South African Spider Wasp: Tarantula Hawk???

Giant Wasp
Mon, Mar 2, 2009 at 6:42 AM
Location: South Africa, Western Cape, Near Malmesbury (Swartland, West Coast)
Weather: 38 Degrees Celsius in the shade, 44 in the sun. No wind. No clouds.
Looks: It has the typical wasp body, only much more bulky as opposed to slender, its really HUGE! Probably 5-6cm when straight. The whole body is black. The tentacles (or radars, what ever it might be called) are dark orange about 1mm thick and spirals once. The eyes are about 3mm wide. The wings and legs are also the same dark orange as the tentacles. The stinger, when pushed out fully is probably about 8mm long, very thin and curves slightly (it looks as it might be a very painful sting). The wasp did seem kind of clumsy. It made a lot of noise when flying. Wingspan, probably about 3.5-4cm. That’s it, I think.
I’ve lived in the western cape and have never seen a WASP come even close to the size of this big boy.
South Africa, West Coast

probably Tarantula Hawk from South Africa
probably Tarantula Hawk from South Africa

Dear Mr?
This is a Spider Wasp in the family Pompilidae.  It bears an uncanny resemblance to a North American Tarantula Hawk in the genus Pepsis.  According to Wikipedia, there are Tarantula Hawks in Africa.  The sting of a female Tarantula Hawk is reported to be one of the most painful of all wasp stings.

4 thoughts on “South African Spider Wasp: Tarantula Hawk???”

  1. I had the scary experience of seeing everyday how it was looking for food or a nest area. Yesterday it dragged a rain spider into the area infront of my office window. My boss made the mistake of accudentally walking past it. It literally went for him. Luckily he had jeans on. In the process of stomping his feet to get it off him, he stepped on it. It was dark brown in colour, orange wings, quite a fattish segmented body of aproximately 5cm in length. This was in Ferndale, Ranburg on 17/02/2016, temperature about 33 degree celcius

  2. On 28 Nov ’16, we saw a huge blue wasp at the Baboon Spiders’ burrows. It was late afternoon past 17;30 and hot… We immediately went and chased it off. It came back a few times and we had difficulty in chasing it off completely. In the meantime we found a Baboon spider laying on her back, and a few babies around her. We rescued them and took the mommy spider with. I posted this on FB at The Spider Club of Southern Africa. We were told it was a spider hunting wasp that paralyzed the mommy. It took a lot of research before I could identify the wasp as a Hemipepsis Tarantula Hawk (sub specie unknown). Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo of it that day, but I remember what it looked like as it was huge and blue and the very first time I saw one of these over here..and well never again I may add. For interest sake, I took the mommy spider and started rehabilitation on her. The babies are back at the burrow. She was completely paralyzed, but has since recovered to a stage where she walks again and eats. If interested, she has her own FB page :

  3. I saw a metallic blue wasp just now, about 5-6 cm long, dragging a paralyzed/dead baboon spider with it. Location: Komatipoort, Mpumalanga, approximately 10 km from Mozambiquean border, right next to Kruger Park. It was kind of clumsy, and made a lot of noise. It also kept on flying a few feet, then returned and dragged the baboon spider there. Could be because it was dragging the baboon spider backwards. It was very aggressive and kept buzzing and arching it’s sting at me. I followed it to a hollow under a tree stump, wich it entered and didn’t come out. I assume it will lay eggs in the spider or eat it, so it is most likely a female. I have seen quite a few of them, but never this big or aggressive.


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