Wasp hovering over paralyzed spider
Location: Kisantu, Congo
May 14, 2012 2:24 pm
Dear Bugman,
We found a wasp guarding a spider that was upside down and looked dead. Did this wasp attack the spider and can you tell us was species they are ?
Signature: Katy and her dad

Probably Spider Wasp and Orbweaver

Dear Katy and her dad,
The behavior you describe is very consistent with that of a Spider Wasp in the family Pompilidae.  Spider Wasps prey upon spiders not to eat, but to provide food for their young.  A female Spider Wasps stings the spider and paralyzes it, but doesn’t kill it.  That way the spider remains alive and fresh and provides a living meal for the developing wasp larva.  Spider Wasps are often very family specific when it comes to their prey.  Your was appears to be a Spider Wasp, and the description on BugGuide includes:  “Typically dark colored with smoky or yellowish wings; a few are brightly colored.  Slender with long and spiny legs, hind femora typically extending beyond tip of abdomen.”  These are characteristics of the wasp in your photo.  Based on the eye pattern which is pictured here on BugGuide, we believe your spider is an Orbweaver in the family Araneidae.  Exact species identifications are not possible at this time.

Probably Orbweaver

Thanks so much Bugman!!  We are glad that there are no giant wasps that can do that to us !


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Location: Africa

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