Subject: Big black bug
Location: Northern (lower) San Pedro River, Cochise County, AZ
June 23, 2012 3:01 pm
Do you have any ideas what this thing is? I’d love to know. I saw it along a wet section of the lower San Pedro River in Cochise County in southern Arizona at around 9:00am on 6/16/12. It was on the edge of the water, moving around a bit from plant to plant but otherwise not doing very much of anything.
Thanks very much!
Signature: LIsa in AZ

Tarantula Hawk: Yes or No???

Hi Lisa,
We do not want to go too far on our identification until we have confirmation or correction from Eric Eaton.  We believe this might be a Tarantula Hawk,
Pepsis mexicana, which we found on BugGuide.

Possibly Pepsis mexicana

Eric Eaton Responds
Yes, either Pepsis grossa (if gigantic), or Pepsis mexicana (if much smaller).

Hi Daniel-
I hope this email actually gets to you!  We certainly have Tarantula Hawks where I live, but I thought they always have orange wings.  Is that not true then?
Thanks very much!

Hi again Lisa,
We are forwarding Eric Eaton’s confirmation.  You can see from the photos of
Pepsis grossa and Pepsis mexicana from BugGuide that there are all black Tarantula Hawks, though orange wings and often orange antennae are the more common and aposomatic coloration for the genus.  BugGuide also notes that Pepsis grossa is:  “Very large, with two color forms: Orange-winged (xanthic) and black-winged (melanic). The two color forms are not often seen in the same locality. Melanic forms are easily confused with Pepsis mexicana, but that species is always much smaller in size than P. grossa.” 

Location: Arizona

4 Responses to Mexican Tarantula Hawk

  1. Catherine says:

    Hi, We have a question on this wasp. There is a Blue Steel Cricket Hunter which is, to my eyes, all but identical to the Mexican Tarantula Wasp and both according to sources can be found in Arizona (where I am). How do we tell them apart? Thank you for your help.

  2. Joe says:

    I live in Cornville, Arizona and while recently hiking (right after monsoon rains) I found a spring that hosted what I thought was a tarantula hawk, but it had blue wings. Perhaps they are in the Verde Valley as well.

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