Currently viewing the category: "Tarantula Hawks"

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

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

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.

Subject: Wasp or Beatle?
Location: Covina California
May 21, 2015 6:35 pm
Found this in the backyard crawling into a hole, never seen one before. It’s quite interesting. It really looks like a beetle mixed with a wasp. 05-21-2015
Signature: Joshua

Tarantula Hawk Carnage

Tarantula Hawk Carnage

Dear Joshua,
We are afraid to ask why this Tarantula Hawk is no longer crawling into a hole.  Tarantula Hawks are Spider Wasps in the family Pompilidae.  We will be tagging this posting as Unnecessary Carnage.

Tarantula Hawk Carnage

Tarantula Hawk Carnage

Subject: Another Tarantula Hawk
Location: Van Nuys, CA
May 4, 2015 6:05 pm
I wrote a couple weeks ago and you helped me identify a Tarantula Hawk I had found on my street. I had no photos at the time.
So heres a funny story for you (and a photo): I was visiting friends who live 17 miles away from me and I was telling them about my encounter with the Tarantula Hawk, describing in detail everything from the size to the colors, to how painful supposedly the sting supposedly is. When my friends starting pointing at me and then yelled “it’s right behind you” I of course didn’t believe them. I thought they were paranoid, it was too much like a bad movie. But turned around and yes there it was. We managed to capture and take a photo. We soon found another one, larger wings, seemed more energetic (this one in the photo wasn’t very fast). The white glare on the photo is the glass.
This is the first TH spotting that my friends have encountered at this residence and they had never heard of it before. How common are these? I’ve managed to run across 3 in as many weeks now.
Signature: Ragga

Tarantula Hawk

Tarantula Hawk

Dear Ragga,
Your account of conjuring up a Tarantula Hawk from the ether through words is very amusing.  We have never encountered a Tarantula Hawk in Mount Washington, but we have encountered individuals in the Los Angeles River and at Barnsdell Park in Los Angeles.  Most of our sightings have occurred in arid areas outside of the city, and it is our speculation that populations of Tarantula Hawks within urban Los Angeles have dwindled with the loss of critical habitat and the scarcity of a food supply in the form of both Tarantulas and Trapdoor Spiders.

 

Subject: What’s this bug
Location: California
August 3, 2014 12:18 pm
Located this one in Vacaville ca
Signature: Ma

Tarantula Hawk

Tarantula Hawk

Dear Ma,
You have encountered a Tarantula Hawk, a member of several possible genera of Spider Wasps that prey upon Tarantulas, not to eat, but to provide food for the larval wasps.  Tarantula Hawks are not aggressive, but they are reported to have a very painful sting.