Currently viewing the category: "Tarantula Hawks"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Lg flying bug orange iridescent wings San Diego
Location: San Diego County
September 28, 2016 7:43 pm
Today I was atop a huge 20ft Boulder at the summit of 3600ft in San Diego County.
This flying insect (seemed like a small humming bird) launched several assaults from hundreds of feet away at me, never really close. Displayed quite the acrobatic maneuvers. What is it?
Signature: Buzzed by big ufo

Tarantula Hawk

Tarantula Hawk

Dear Buzzed by big ufo,
Though your image lacks clarity, this Tarantula Hawk in unmistakable.  Tarantula Hawks are large Spider Wasps that generally have black bodies with bright orange wings.  Though they are not aggressive toward humans, they are reported to have an extremely painful sting.  Female Tarantula Hawks hunt Tarantulas, stinging them to paralyze, but not kill them.  The paralyzed Tarantula is then dragged back to an underground burrow where it is buried after the Tarantula Hawk lays an egg.  When the egg hatches, the larval wasp feeds on the still living, but paralyzed Tarantula that acts as a source of fresh (not dried out) food.

Daniel,
I’ve attached additional photos.
Also, this was aggressive to show its displeasure,  although I was 50-100ft from its origin, but it may be due to my wearing a bright orange shirt…
Thanks,
Thanks so much.
This one does have a much larger body than most.
—Jim

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: I should know this, but don’t.
Location: Southern California
September 18, 2016 5:38 pm
Coaching tennis on a 90 degree Southern California day and this guy was extremely big and rambunctious. Haven’t seen one this big and this color. I should know this. Any help would be great and I can tell my team exactly what it was cuz we were all wondering. Thanks.
Signature: To Jay Miles

Tarantula Hawk

Tarantula Hawk

Dear Jay,
While we are unable to provide you with an exact species identification, we are quite certain this Spider Wasp is one of the Tarantula Hawks in either the genus
Pepsis or the genus HemipepsisFemale Tarantula Hawks hunt Tarantulas and Trapdoor Spiders, and then sting them to paralyze them.  They then drag them to a burrow and bury the paralyzed spider after laying an egg.  The hatchling Tarantula Hawk will eat the spider alive, avoiding the vital organs, so the food will stay fresh and not dry out as would happen with a dead spider.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Zombie Wasp?
Location: Household basement of Pueblo, Colorado
June 25, 2016 7:27 am
Found this little guy in my grandmothers basement this morning. Now i’ve never been much of a bug enthusiast until I found this little guy and here is why. After flying through several cobwebs he tired out and hit the floor. After which my grandmother proceeded to try and kill it by stepping on it. after 4 attempts with a steel toe boot the creature revives itself after every attempt and walks off seemingly unscratched. The insect has a jet black body and dark blue wings with a body type very similar to a wasp. Though the actual head of the creature looks to be more like a fly. The insect also has 2 antennas that are curled at the ends. Any ideas about this small zombie?
Signature: Paranoid Captor

Spider Wasp

Spider Wasp

Dear Paranoid Captor,
This is a Spider Wasp in the family Pompillidae, and it might be one of the Tarantula Hawks, perhaps
Pepsis mexicana which is pictured on BugGuide.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Tarantula Hawk Long Beach
Location: Long Beach CA
April 20, 2016 2:49 pm
Hi, I first saw one of these beauties scouring my yard in the early mornings and late afternoons 3 years ago. I could not find anyone who’d seen one here and my tentative identification of Tarantula Hawk seemed insane. But they keep showing up the 2nd-3rd week of April every year and my neighbors are seeing them now too.
I notice you said you’d never seen one in Mt. Washington and assumed this was because their prey had diminished. That’s my REAL question. Since they are successfully reproducing, I wonder what kind of spiders are also making a comeback? Is my yard home to tarantulas? Trapdoors?
I’m about 10 blocks from the ocean and quite a ways between both rivers. I think tarantula were native here before urbanization and, well, every year now is the hottest year on record…
Incidentally, I think their behavior (the females) is noteworthy for identification purposes. They are OBSESSED. They fly very low over grass, or run around cracks in concrete, over and over and over for a couple of hours every day and return to the same place the same time the next day. They take off in a hurry at my approach but immediately return to their task. I suspect they divvy up territory and I’m seeing the same wasp return to the same place? (There’s a different spot in my front yard that attracts another). I THINK the occasional stray that cruises in, flies higher, lights on a branch or just plain doesn’t appear to have OCD disorder is the male hoping to get lucky? I’ve spent lots of time observing them, but I’ve yet to figure out where they go when they’re not hunting (do they live in the ground too?) or see one catch a spider.
Signature: Curious

Spider Wasp

Spider Wasp

Dear Curious,
To the best of our knowledge, only two genera from the Spider Wasp Tribe Pepsini are officially Tarantula Hawks.  We believe your have a member of the tribe, possibly
Calopompilus pyrrhomelas based on this BugGuide image and others posted to the site.  The brown tips on the wings is similar to your individual.  According to BugGuide, the prey for the species is this Trapdoor Spider.  Despite the similarity in coloration, we believe your individual is a Spider Wasp, but not the more specific Tarantula Hawk.  Arachnoboards has an interesting discussion regarding Tarantula Hawks in Long Beach.

Thank you so much. They may “belong” here, but no one I know has ever seen one and suddenly they’re enjoying a population boom. Don’t know if its a comeback, or they arrived on native plants, or they abandoned a habitat that’s gotten too hot. But we apparently have the spiders they need!
I’m normally paranoid of wasps due to allergies, but these aren’t even slightly aggressive. I’ve gotten to watch them so closely because they fly in easy range of my fascinated cats, so I supervise the cats’ outdoor time in order to stop them from pouncing on the wasps.
I’m attaching a better photo, and if I ever catch sight of the the trapdoors, will try to pass along a photo of them.
Your service is fantastic!

Spider Wasp

Spider Wasp

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Large Wasp
Location: Central Arizona
November 14, 2015 3:38 pm
Funny story. Fount this guy in the pool, dead. Scooped him out and spread him out to dry after showing the kids. While laying him out I couldn’t get his legs right, to spread, so I kept at it until he came back to life.
Signature: Brian

Tarantula Hawk

Tarantula Hawk

Dear Brian,
What a wonderful Bug Humanitarian story.  This is a Tarantula Hawk, a group of Spider Wasps that prey upon Tarantulas.  Most North American species of Tarantula Hawks have reddish-orange wings.  We are pretty certain your individual is Pepsis mexicana based on images posted to BugGuide.

Tarantula Hawk

Tarantula Hawk

Tarantula Hawk

Tarantula Hawk

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

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.
  We will be postdating your submission to go live on our site while we are away from the office in June.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination