Currently viewing the category: "spider wasps"
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Hi Bugman,
I hope you can help explain what’s going on in this picture. I was on top of the mountain taking sunset photos when luckily I looked down and saw what looked like a giant wasp dragging a trantula. The wasp was walking backward. Both insects were very much alive. I thought I read that their is some flying insect that captures live prey and then pulls it underground to lay eggs on it and the young feed off the paralyzed captive. I followed this pair until they disappeared into the long grass. Could you please tell me if that is indeed a wasp and what it plans for the spider? I live in Costa Rica. Thanks,

hi Jordan,
The information you have heard is basically correct. Tarantula Hawks are large wasps in the genus Pepsis found in the Americas. The female wasp stings and parazyzes a Tarantula and drags it into a burrow where she lays an egg. The young wasp larva hatches and has a fresh food supply, eating the Tarantula alive. Thanks for the awesome photo.

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bug trade
Hey Bug man! Love your site, and usually find the name of the bug just by browsing. But I’m stumped on this iridescent blue bug, maybe he’s a wasp? Want to make sure he’s not going to eat my catterpillars, who are happily munching my passion vine (why don’t they eat the flowers?).

In exchange, I have attached some cool pix of the catterpillar who just today started to build its ‘coccoon’, you can see it down at the base…and the fritillaries(I think), who come out. I have roughly twenty cases in varied stages on my house and fence, and roughly 50 or more catterpillars still munching. They seem to love the passion plant for food, and once changed, they enjoy a rose of sharon, crepe myrtle and lantana, also they have been feeding at the hummingbird feeder, and some at the pasion flowers. It has been a warm dry summer, so maybe that’s the reason for the explosion of critters – I didn’t have this many all last year! Here are the photos. I am going to try and photo the one that’s ‘pupating'(?) now as it stages, and can share the other stages with you if you like!
PS – I had visited your site before when I lived in Florida. Just wanted to let you know that you were highly recommended by the local AG office here in Perry, Georgia!
Kaye Fiorello
Perry, GA

Hi Kaye,
What a sweet complimentary letter. Sadly, we don’t recognize your wasp species, but we have high expectations that Eric Eaton will correctly identify it. Eric informed us it is a Spider Wasp. The Gulf Fritillary images are awesome. We don’t know why the caterpillars don’t eat the flowers.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

tarantula hawk
Hi there.
I found your web site while trying to identify a wasp. We saw an amazing dance between a large black wasp with orange wings and a tarantula. The tarantula pounced on the wasp and tried to eat it. It does appear to be a tarantula hawk. I’m sure that you will have trouble identifying the wasp from this picture, but it does seem to resemble the tarantula hawk identified on your web site. I thought you might find the attached picture interesting. We are not sure who won this fight. It appears that the tarantula won but it’s hard to say…both bugs were still squirming when we moved on. I wish that I had been able to capture the dance on video, but unfortunately it was over by the time I got a hold of the camera.

Hi Dave,
Here is proof that if you prey on a predator, you might get eaten.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Nice and fun site. Here’s a spider wasp of some sort dragging what seems to be an orb weaver to its lair. Photgraphed in central Texas (about 70 miles east of Austin) on 9/6/2005. Any idea of the genus and species? Thanks for you reply. Absolutely fine if you post. Charles Vannoy, my father-in-law, took the picture.
Glenn Davis

Hi Glenn,
We are pretty certain this is an Anoplius Spider Wasp, but the puzzling thing is they prey on Wolf Spiders and Funnel Web Spiders. Yours is preying on a Garden Spider in the genus Argiope. We will get a second opinion when Eric Eaton returns. Here is what Eric has to say: ” The spider wasp with the garden spider is indeed an Anoplius. Good grief, I didn’t realize they could take prey that big!”

Correction:  September 2, 2013
Thanks to a correction from Nick in a comment, we can link to BugGuide regarding
Poecilopompilus algidus.


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Hey Bugman,
Any idea what this cool red and blue flying creature might be? I saw him dragging this huge dead spider across my driveway. Is it possible that it made the kill?

Hi Todd,
First the Spider Wasp did NOT make the kill. The spider is alive. The spider is paralyzed. The spider will become food for the young wasp. The female wasp will provision a nest with spiders that are stung and paralyzed and then lay an egg. The egg hatches and begins to feed on the still living spider, a fresh food source. We are not sure of the species, but have located what looks like your wasp on BugGuide. It is listed as the genus Tachypompilus. We have put in a query to a real expert, Eric Eaton for substantiation.

Ed. Note: We just heard back from Eric Eaton who agrees: “VERY hard to tell from the image, but the prey (wolf spider) suggests that this is indeed Tachypompilus. One other possibility is Poecilopompilus, but they attack orb weavers, and I have not seen one with violaceous wings. So, yes, Tachypompilus. Eric “

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More unidentified critters
I photographed one at a local park here in Southern Cal. Hoping you could help me identify them.

Hi Rus,
You have outdone yourself with this Tarantula Hawk, Pepsis species photograph. The orange antennae are not something we are used to seeing. Curved antennae signify a female who has a powerful stinger. She uses it to paralyze tarantulas, the food for the larval wasps.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination