Subject: Tarantula wasp in Miami?
Location: Miami Beach FL
March 13, 2014 11:55 am
Hey Bugman! I snapped this while walking down the street in South Beach (Miami, FL) this past January. It seems to match descriptions of tarantula wasps… although it just seems odd to me. Hope you can shed some light! Sorry about the poor res…
Signature: Jet Setter
Dear Jet Setter,
Like the Blue-Green Wasp Mimic you submitted, this Spotted Oleander Caterpillar Moth, Empyreuma pugione, is a wasp mimic in the Tiger Moth tribe Arctiini. Tarantula Hawks often have black bodies with orange wings, and the aposematic or warning coloration alerts predators to the threat of bothering them, because the sting of a Tarantula Hawk is reported to be quite painful. The docile and harmless moth benefits from the mimicry. According to BugGuide: “The spotted oleander caterpillar is a recent immigrant to the US from the Caribbean, first recorded in Florida in Boca Raton, Palm Beach County, in February 1978.” Since the Spotted Oleander Caterpillars feed on toxic oleander, the aposematic coloration might also be a warning not to eat this species as the toxins may be retained in the bodies of the moths.