Spider Wasp from South Africa: Java caroliwaterhouse

Subject: South African Flying Insect
Location: Nature’s Valley, Western Cape, South Africa
June 20, 2012 3:17 pm
Here’s a lovely bug from the South African Cape. We’d love to know what it is.
Signature: Luis

Spider Wasp from South Africa

Hi Luis,
We are nearly certain this incredibly gorgeous insect is a Spider Wasp in the family Pompilidae, but we cannot find any photos online to support that supposition.  Perhaps one of our readers will have better luck with a species identification.

Update:  November 19, 2015
While researching a new Spider Wasp submission from Namibia, we discovered this iSpot image that supports our identification, but alas, it is only identified to the family level Pompilidae.

Update:  August 11, 2017
While researching the identity of a Spider Wasp image from Egypt, we stumbled upon these images of Java caroliwaterhouse on Wasp Web. where it states:  ” Females hunt and paralyze large spiders such as Rain Spiders (Palystes).

9 thoughts on “Spider Wasp from South Africa: Java caroliwaterhouse”

  1. Thanks! I live in California and I like to visit my friends in South Africa as often as I can. I told them this looks similar to our tarantula hawk.

    • And the Tarantula Hawk is a Spider Wasp, so we are in agreement. There are many similar looking Spider Wasps in Australia which shares closely related species with South Africa. The large Spider Wasps in Australia prey on Huntsman Spiders and there are large Huntsman Spiders in South Africa. This is all circumstantial, but it supports the Spider Wasp identification.

  2. Although I am not an expert, I am certain that you have got your identification of this insect correct. In the last half hour we have just seen this insect hauling a paralysed rain spider that was at least the same size as itself at incredible speed across the ground outside our house. Although it is beautiful, it also appears that the insect has one of the most painful stings of any insect on the planet.

    • Thanks for your verification of our identification. We will remove the uncertainty from the title of the posting. We wish you had taken a photo. This truly is a gorgeous Spider Wasp and we would love to know the species.

  3. Hello, I was looking online to find this type of wasp and this was the only page I found with the species that looks like this. I also saw this exact wasp several months ago near Wilderness South Africa, also eating some kind of spider. I was with a few locals and they said that the wasp is apparently highly venomous/poisonous, and from what I read about spider wasps it sounds like it fits the bill.

    Thanks for all the information.

    • As a point of clarification, the adult Spider Wasp does not prey upon spiders to eat, but rather the female provisions a nest for her young with Spiders. Adult Spider Wasps, both males and females, feed upon nectar and they can often be seen at flowers that produce quantities of nectar, including milkweed. We still have not identified the species name for this beautiful Spider Wasp. We wish you were able to provide additional images.

      • If I knew before how few images online of this wasp there was, I would have taken a picture of it right away to send lol. At the moment I’m not in South Africa so alas I cannot re-locate this wasp and photograph it at the moment. The next time I go and see one I’ll take a photo and post here for everyone. Thank you for all your valuable information.


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