Currently viewing the category: "Tarantula Hawks"

Subject:  This lives my desert milkweed
Geographic location of the bug:  Phoenix AZ urban environment
Date: 08/14/2021
Time: 10:42 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Can you tell us what this beautiful insect is. It has beautiful iridescence on its thorax and abdomen that do not show as clearly in the photo. It is approximately 2.5 inches long with long graceful legs and long wings.
How you want your letter signed:  Thank you! Deborah

Tarantula Hawk

Dear Deborah,
First we want to compliment you on your wonderful image that is so rich in anatomical details, including the two spines visible on the hind leg joint.  This is a Tarantula Hawk and many Tarantula Hawks have bright orange wings and iridescent bodies, aposomatic or warning colors that this wasp can sting and the sting is reported to be quite painful.  At first we suspected it was a Mexican Tarantula Hawk because of the black wings, but the large size you indicate has us thinking this is the melanic form of
Pepsis grossa based on this BugGuide information:  “Very large, with two color forms: Orange-winged (xanthic) and black-winged (melanic). The two color forms are not often seen in the same locality. Melanic forms are easily confused with Pepsis mexicana, but that species is always much smaller in size than P. grossa.”  When Tarantula Hawks fly, their long legs dangle behind them.  Though they are not aggressive, the sting is reported to be extremely painful.  True to their name, female Tarantula Hawks prey upon Tarantulas which they paralyze with their sting.  The living but helpless Tarantula is then buried and the Tarantula Hawk lays an egg.  When the egg hatches, the larva will eat the Tarantula alive.  This is important because if the Tarantula was dead, it would dry up and be useless as food for the larval wasp.  Tarantula Hawks are very fond of milkweed.  Thanks again for your wonderful submission.

Subject: Tarantula Hawk
Geographic location of the bug: Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
Date: 08/01/2019
Time: 10:26 AM EDT
Daniel was out working in the yard when he spotted a large, metallic green wasp well over 1 1/2 inches in length.  Alas, there was no camera handy and the wasp quickly flew off after running on the ground for a few seconds with an agitated style and its wings quivering.  Upon some research, and comparing images on The Natural History of Orange County and on BugGuide, Daniel believes it was a Tarantula Hawk, possibly
Pepsis mexicana, and that is why this image from our archives is being used to illustrate this new posting.

Tarantula Hawk

 

Subject:  lage wasp like
Geographic location of the bug:  Suriname, South America
Date: 02/17/2019
Time: 08:53 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi i live in Suriname and never came across this bug before. What is it?
How you want your letter signed:  Marlon

Tarantula Hawk

Dear Marlon,
This appears to be a Tarantula Hawk in the genus
Pepsis, or a closely related genus.  Female Tarantula Hawks prey upon Tarantulas and Trapdoor Spiders, stinging them to paralyze them.  The paralyzed Tarantula is buried after the female Tarantula Hawk lays an egg.  When the egg hatches, the larva feeds on the still living, but paralyzed Tarantula.

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

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.

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.