How To Get Rid Of Tarantula Hawks? Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

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Tarantula Hawk

Did you recently find a tarantula hawk nest on your property, or perhaps saw one or two of them buzzing around your flower garden? Here’s how to get rid of tarantula hawks and how to find out if they are nesting on your property.

 

A tarantula hawk is a spider wasp that preys on tarantulas twice its size! 

The unique thing about these solitary wasps is that even though they look deadly, they are not aggressive to humans unless provoked.

However, their powerful stings are the second most painful ones in the world. 

Therefore, if you have kids or pets at home or are allergic to wasp stings, it is important to know how to get rid of this species of wasps.

 

How To Get Rid Of Tarantula Hawks? Helpful Tips

 

What Do They Look Like?

Tarantula hawks have metallic blue-black bodies and brightly colored wings. Their orange wings are a warning sign to others about their painful sting (known as aposematism).

Some of them may have black wings with blue dots with a distinct veining pattern.

They have long legs with hooked claws at the bottom, which they use to drag their considerably bigger prey.

With their 1.5-inch long bodies, tarantula hawks are the largest wasps in the United States.

The male wasp has straight antennae, while female wasps have curled ones.

As mentioned, they are non-social wasps that do not nest or hunt in colonies and generally prefer to fly closer to the ground.

They live during the summer months and die off in about one or two months.

Signs The Your Property is Hosting Tarantula Hawks

Tarantula Hawks are usually found in the warm areas of Southeast Asia, Africa, Europe, and the southwestern desert areas of the United States.

Though there is a lower chance for people in the US to come across them, one should know where to find them to avoid their painful sting.

These wasps are diggers; they make their nests by burrowing deep inside the ground. They create these nests as home to their eggs and, subsequently, the larvae.

Tarantula Hawk wasps like to make nests on bald patches of the ground where there is no grass and ample sunlight hitting the ground directly. This helps keep the larvae warm during winters.

Their nests usually have 1-2 inch wide openings that look like small holes in the ground. If you see some holes of this type, it is likely that you are hosting a digger wasp.

Many people think that since tarantula hawks sting tarantulas, they might eat them as well – this is far from the truth.

Tarantula hawk larvae are parasitic, and the adults use the paralyzed spider as a host for these larvae.

For themselves, they only like nectar, honeydew, and juice from berries and fruits. Their favorite is generally the nectar from soapberry trees and milkweeds.

If you have any of these plants in your garden, a tarantula wasp might show up.

However, they still need tarantulas for their larvae, so you won’t find them in areas that do not have tarantulas.

 

How To Get Rid Of Tarantula Hawks? Helpful Tips

 

Removing Tarantula Hawk Wasps From Your Garden Or Yard

Even though these spider wasps are not aggressive, it is better to be safe than sorry. Moreover, if you have kids at home, they might not know that wasps are dangerous.

So, keeping your home free from tarantula hawk wasps is important. We have discussed some sure-shot ways to eliminate them in the section below.

Start by Putting on Protective Clothing

Prevention is better than cure, so it is best to wear clothes with thick fabric, boots, gloves, a cap, a muffler, or a mask to cover up your entire body.

The protective clothing will ensure your safety even if the adult wasps try to bite you.

 

How To Get Rid Of Tarantula Hawks? Helpful Tips

 

Use Insecticide Powder

You can buy insecticide powder from the market and directly attack underground wasp nests to get rid of them.

However, before you do this, you should cover the entryway of the nest with moist soil to stop the wasps from escaping their nests.

Moreover, always do this during the night, as the wasps are inactive after sunset.

Once you use the powder, wait a day or two for the wasps to die or dig another nest.

You can also pour some form of fuel, for instance, gasoline, on their nests and cover them with a soft cloth.

The fumes will trap the wasps in their nest, and you can easily dig their nests out and get rid of them quickly.

Use Resmethrin on Hanging Nests

If you hang wasp nests around your home, you’d have to use a different method to get rid of them.

The first step is to locate the nests during the daytime and spray resmethrin at night.

Next, dust resmethrin and insecticide dust on the hanging nests to block the wasps’ escape.

Remember to put the insecticide dust all over the steel wool and use it to cover the nest entrance.

Once you follow the above steps, wait a day or two for the wasps to die. You can get rid of the nest on the second or third day.

 

How To Get Rid Of Tarantula Hawks? Helpful Tips

 

DIY Traps for Them

If you want to avoid using chemicals, you can create a DIY trap for tarantula hawk wasps in your home. Here’s how to make it.

  • Cut the top off a large plastic bottle
  • Turn it vertically and put the vertical part in the bottle to give a funnel-like shape.
  • Now, fill it with soda until it reaches halfway.
  • Now, add a few drops of dish soap.
  • Next, put the DIY trap near the wasps’ nests and wait for them to come out.

The sugary smell of the soda and soap will attract the wasps to come closer to the trap. Once they do, you can capture and get rid of them quickly.

Encourage Natural Predators

The best way to get rid of tarantula haw wasps is to invite natural predators to their nests.

However, tarantula wasps have few predators due to their long and painful stingers. Thus, only bullfrogs or road runners can quickly help you get rid of the tarantula hawks.

Finding a bullfrog or road runner is difficult since the former usually live near water and rarely leave their natural habitat to go to the cities.

The road runner wouldn’t venture to a city area as well. Thus, you may have to bring them on rent from a vendor to get rid of the wasps.

 

How To Get Rid Of Tarantula Hawks? Helpful Tips

 

What Causes Tarantula Hawk Wasps?

Tarantula hawk wasps are most active in warm areas.

Secondly, you can find them where there is a population of tarantula spiders nearby since they need those to lay eggs inside their bodies.

So, if you find an active tarantula hawk wasp in and around your home, these might be the reasons.

A spider problem in your home

If you see potential spider homes in the form of long grass, yard debris, rock crevices, and untrimmed bushes, make sure to clear them off or get rid of them immediately.

If you keep your lawns and gardens trimmed and cultivated, the chances of tarantula hawk showing will be lowered since they usually prefer rocky areas and sandy trains.

Sugary food

If you have a wasp problem in your area, avoid sugary drinking drinks or eating sweets outside your house.

Since these wasps love sugary foods, they might enter your home attracted by its scent.

 

How To Get Rid Of Tarantula Hawks? Helpful Tips

 

Preventing Tarantula Hawk Wasps From Coming Inside

A tarantula hawk can enter your home during hot summer days.

If you live in an area prone to a tarantula wasp’s visit, get rid of all the cracks, crevices, and gaps in your house.

During the afternoon, when the heat is at its peak, try to keep all your doors and windows shut off.

If you must step out, cover yourself with protective clothing and always wear shoes before entering the lawn or garden area.

Also, remember to trim your garden from time to time to avoid an invitation to these wasps.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are tarantula hawks attracted to?

Tarantula hawks are attracted to tarantula spiders since they are the potential hosts for their larvae.
They are also attracted to sugar products, like sweets and drinks, nectar and juice from berries and fruits.

What happens if you get bitten by a tarantula hawk wasp?

If you get bitten by a tarantula hawk wasp, you may feel excruciating pain for the next 5 to 10 minutes, after which it subsides.
You may have itchiness, red rash, or swelling in the affected area. However, if you are allergic to insect bites, you must immediately seek medical help.

Is the tarantula hawk aggressive?

Like paper wasps, tarantula hawks are usually not aggressive towards human beings, but if provoked or threatened, they can give you a painful sting.
They are, however, quite aggressive towards their prey, tarantula spiders, whom they paralyze with their venomous stingers.

Do tarantula hawks sting dogs?

Tarantula hawks might sting dogs, but due to their fur coverings, they may experience lesser pain than humans. These wasps don’t usually go around trying to sting dogs, but if provoked, they may also end up giving sting to them.

Wrap Up

Tarantula hawks are not aggressive, and they don’t go around biting people or their pets. However, it is best to take the necessary precautions if you see them near your home.

You can use any of the methods that we talked about, or else call professionals to get rid of wasp nests. In any case, try to get rid of them quickly to avoid future stings or accidents.

Thank you for reading! 

Authors

  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

    View all posts
  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

    View all posts
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7 Comments. Leave new

  • jobeth plummer
    June 4, 2013 7:11 pm

    The Tarantula Hawks do something like swarming. I live on a ranch in West Texas, we have a fish pond behind the house that is probably a half an acre. The house is surrounded by trees. There were literally THOUSANDS of Tarantula Hawks buzzing the house and pond today. They covered whole trees, completely covered the windmill pipe that goes to the pond, it was an invasion to be sure. They were not aggressive but somewhat intimidating. It was like Alfred Hitchcocks ‘The Birds’, only with Tarantula Hawks.

    Reply
    • We imagine that populations might spike during years when there is a ready food supply. Thanks for the fascinating comment.

      Reply
  • One of the most powerful stings, second only to the Bullet Ant. However, very docile and non-aggressive.

    Reply
  • Oliver Zuniga
    January 6, 2017 10:50 am

    I saw a swarm in Costa Rica once. Probably 100 of them in one place. Metallic blue and the sound was impressible low pitch, (reminded me of the electric effect used in the sound of light sabers).

    Reply
  • David Steele
    May 17, 2018 6:31 pm

    We saw a Tarantula Hawk here in Signal Hill, CA. It was crawling on the pavement and seemed in distress. Never saw one before.

    Reply
  • I came across this post while looking up a swarm currently in my front yard on a flowering bush. There are probably about 30-50 at any given time. Everything I read up to this point said they were solitary. I do have pictures and video if you are interested.

    Reply
  • I was riding my mountain bike and came across a swam of them on a mesquite tree.No choice but ride they chased me. Thankfully didn’t get stung Read something about males tops of trees during mating season territorial males don’t have stingers

    Reply

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