Subject: Bee/Wasp (?) from Peru
Location: Coastal Peru
January 6, 2014 6:24 pm
today’s identification request refers to this flying insect from coastal Peru. It was pretty big and I was really in awe of it’s orange antennae and the length of its behind legs. Thank you again for your great help!
This is surely a Spider Wasp in the family Pompilidae, and we are relatively certain it is a Tarantula Hawk in the tribe Pepsini. Many Tarantula Hawks have orange wings, but there are also black winged individuals. We found a photo that was cached on Ebay that is a Peruvian Tarantula Hawk that looks similar. Here is another Peruvian Tarantula Hawk on Etsy, but it has black antennae. Bird Forum has a very similar looking Peruvian Tarantula Hawk tentatively identified as an Elegant Tarantula Hawk, Pepsis menechma. Continued research revealed that the Elegant Tarantula Hawk is a North American species that is pictured on BugGuide, but that does not mean it doesn’t range down to South America. We cannot at this time provide a species identification, but you can be assured that this is a Tarantula Hawk. Female Tarantula Hawks hunt Tarantulas. They sting and paralyze the spiders and then bury them after laying a single egg. The paralyzed Tarantula becomes a stationary, living source of food for the developing larval Tarantula Hawk. We have several examples in our archives of Tarantula Hawks hunting Tarantulas, and even a photo where the Tarantula Hawk was eaten by the Tarantula, which is what can happen if you insist on hunting predators.