Subject: Fifteen years in Sd first time seeing this!
Location: San Diego
June 3, 2015 7:19 pm
Found this rad insect crawling around the ground in my backyard in san diego ca. Any idea?
Signature: Ink only.

Tarantula Hawk

Tarantula Hawk

Dear Ink Only,
This is a Tarantula Hawk.  Unless you are extremely fond of intense pain, like what might result from multiple stabbings with an inking needle, you should handle this Tarantula Hawk with caution as they are reported to have one of the most painful insect stings known to man.  Their venom is strong enough to paralyze a Tarantula.
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Location: San Diego, California

7 Responses to Tarantula Hawk

  1. They are all over San Diego especially in Capparal.

  2. First time I saw one in New Mexico. Out here they get to be about 2 to 3 inches long. Lived in Cali most of my life never saw one. Now I know to avoid them YICKS !

  3. We get them through the Comstock here in northern Nevada. There is a tarantula migration that moves through so we also get a good swarm of these not-so-little devils (about 3″ long). They paralyze the tarantula with their poison, lay eggs in its abdomen & when the eggs hatch they have a living host to devour from the inside out. Pretty wicked stuff! Beautiful, fascinating creatures.

  4. Grady says:

    Actually, while it is true that tarantula hawk wasps have the second-most painful sting of any insect (losing only to the bullet ant), they’re incredibly docile; I’ve actually handled them on multiple occasions with zero stings thus far. They have to perceive that their life is in danger before they’ll sting. (That being said, I still wouldn’t recommend handling it! But, you know, don’t necessarily feel the need to run away from them if you happen to see them.)

  5. Sabrina says:

    I just found one in my dogs pool. I have it in a bug jar but don’t know what to do with it. Any ideas how or where to let it go?

  6. LYNND says:

    Just spotted one of these near my home at 3400 feet in Northwest Los Angeles County in the Antelope Valley region. I have yet to see a tarantula but I have to assume they are nearby given that this wasp was present.

    It flies like a dragonfly but moves in that jittery wasp-like fashion. The one I saw had neon-red/orange wings.

    I have read other comments elsewhere on this site about Tarantula Hawks and curious children as young as four trying to check it out! People, it moves like a wasp — it IS a wasp — and per Wikipedia the stinger is 7mm long, which would make it bigger than a 1 carat diamond (a 1 carat diamond ranges from ~6-6.5mm). All of which means you should keep a SAFE DISTANCE from this wasp.

    • bugman says:

      Thanks for the good advice. Tarantula Hawks are not aggressive, but a female will sting to protect herself.

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