Some battles are easy to predict, while others are truly difficult. In the insect world, spider vs. wasp is a rivalry that has often invited debates among punters. So let’s answer the question once and for all, shall we?
Spiders and wasps are both powerful and fearsome constituents of the insect realm.
Both have their own weapons and tactics to fight and win in a battle. Both can be very aggressive when push comes to shove.
So, spiders vs. wasps – who will win in a fight? This question isn’t just a fun thing to imagine.
It’s a matter of life and death for some species. In this article, we try to make a comparison between these two and figure out who will win in a fight.
How Big Are They?
In the insect world, body size matters.
Ultimately, nine times out of ten, the winner of any fight is always the more powerful one, those who are bigger and have deadlier weapons.
So let’s first get an understanding of which one is bigger before we get any further.
How Big Are Spiders?
If you think that spiders are small creatures, think again. Your common garden spider might be small, but spiders can grow to be pretty huge in places like Australia.
The world record goes to the Goliath bird-eating spider (the name itself tells you how big this guy is). This beast of a spider can grow up to 4.7 inches long.
Now you might think, that’s actually not that big. But we haven’t shared one killer detail here – the legs of this spider can reach up to 11 inches (nearly a foot).
Imagine finding that thing on the wall of your house! What wasp could survive this nightmare?
Well, all spiders aren’t this huge. The smallest ones are pretty cute – the patu digua, the smallest spider in the world, is just 0.015 inches in length – that’s almost the size of your nail.
So when you want to know which one would win in a fight, the first question you should answer is – which spider are we talking about here?
Some other huge spiders are: Giant Huntsman spider (12 inches), Brazilian Salmon Pink Birdeater Spider (10 inches), Brazilian Giant Tawny Red Tarantula (10 inches), and Face-size Tarantula (8 inches)
How Big Are Wasps?
Now that we have established that spiders are truly the stuff of nightmares let’s get to the other insect terrorizing your dreams – wasps.
Did you know that the largest wasp is the Tarantula Hawk, which can be about 2.7 inches in length? Imagine a huge flying creature like this with a massive stinger attacking you from the sky!
Other giants wasps include the Dalara Garuda (2.5 inches), Giant Scoliid Wasp (2.5 inches), Mammoth Wasp (2.4 inches), and Asian Giant Hornet (2 inches)
Some wasps are quite small, such as the Mymaridae, which is just about 1/100th of an inch and is the smallest flying insect in the world.
All in all, wasps aren’t as big as spiders can be, so surely spiders have some advantage in hand-to-hand (or is it leg-to-leg?) combat.
Fortunately for the wasp, nature has evened things out by giving it wings. And that, combined with their nimbleness, can be enough to alter the equation in their favor.
Which is More Venomous?
We do have a clear answer to this question. Researchers in Australia (where else?) spent 13 years studying bites from various creatures and their impact on humans.
Apparently, wasps and bees are the single biggest reason for humans to reach the ER room, causing about a third of all such cases.
Spiders, snakes, and even jellyfish were in the fray, but none came even close to how dangerous these wasps could be.
So that’s a clear advantage for wasps, right?
Not so fast. While wasps might have caused a third of the cases, spiders weren’t too far behind, with 30 percent of all hospitalizations coming from their venomous bites.
Snakes came in a distant third with just 15 percent. So clearly, if anyone is giving a tough fight to the wasps, it is the spiders.
Some more shocking figures – nearly fifty percent of all cases happened inside homes (the horror!), and nearly two-thirds were in areas that had human populations near them, so these bites don’t always happen in woods and forests.
These creatures live right in our midst, and they are just waiting for the next occasion to bite you. Beware.
Whose Bite/Sting is More Painful?
I know what you are thinking – who would go around getting bitten by these creatures to find out which bite is more painful?
Well, don’t look at us, but some scientists decided that it would be a worthwhile exercise to figure this out.
And thus was born the Schmidt sting pain index. As the name suggests, spiders are not on the pain list because they don’t have stingers.
Their venom is not all that painful, though it can be life-threatening. But we would still love for you to know about some of the wasps on this list:
|Western Yellow Jacket||2|
Another group of scientists evaluated the painful sting of wasps, ants, bees, and other insects and came up with their own classification.
Their study confirmed that social wasps have the most painful bites in the world. The average pain index of these wasps was about 2.18, enough to make a grown man weep.
What Do They Eat?
Now let’s come to the reason why these insects would want to attack each other. And what other possible reason could there be for two insects to fight? Food, after all, is the biggest motivator in the world.
Do Spiders Eat Wasps?
Yes. Some spiders can and do eat wasps. Wolf spiders, Lynx spiders, garden spiders, crab spiders, Argiope bruennichi (european wasp spider), and so on lead a charmed life.
These guys weave tangled webs and wait for insects to get trapped in their webs. And every once in a while, a flying wasp will find itself caught in them.
So, what is a spider to do if a delectable snack presents itself on the web? Well, eat it, of course! The spider quickly injects its venom into the poor victim and then gets ready to feast on the spoils of victory.
Do Wasps Eat Spiders?
Yes, wasps, despite their smaller size, can eat spiders. In fact, there is one particular species of wasp that has made a spider its primary prey – the aptly named spider wasp.
Although these wasps aren’t actually fighting against spiders for food. They are doing it for the survival of their bloodline. How? Read on.
Spider wasps use spiders as live food for their larvae when they hatch. These wasps fight spiders more than twice their size, stinging them repeatedly in the abdomen until the spider keels over paralyzed (but unfortunately not dead).
The wasp then drags the zombie spider back to its nest and places it along with her egg, covering the nest up with mud or a small pebble.
When the eggs hatch, there is a nice little meal already available for them laid out by their mama.
They carefully run through the poor spider’s body, leaving the vital organs for the last so that the poor thing remains alive till the very end.
That’s possibly the worst fate any creature could face in the world. For those with a stomach for such things, here’s a video of the fight and its aftermath:
The spider wasp is not the only one in on the act. There are other wasps that can also eat spiders, such as Ceropales Maculate.
Some species of spider wasp that are common in North America include Leaden spider wasp, Red Spider Wasp, Organ pipe mud dauber, and Entypus unifasciatus.
Who Will Win in a Fight?
So clearly, some spiders can eat wasps, and some wasps can eat spiders. That leads us straight back to our original question – who will win in a fight?
The answer, as with everything else in life, is not that simple. It depends on which spider is fighting which wasp. Let’s imagine some scenarios here:
Tarantula Hawk vs. garden spider
The tarantula hawk, as the name makes it abundantly clear, is a spider killer. Most garden variety spiders would not stand a chance against this fearless spider hunter, and if the video above was any indication, even tarantula doesn’t stand a chance.
Tarantula Hawk vs. Goliath bird-eating spider
Well, this one is a no-brainer. The Goliath is a true goliath, and the Tarantula Hawk’s David will not stand a chance against this beast. It’s huge – and might easily overpower the wasp.
Asian Giant Hornet vs. Goliath bird eater.
Well, this might be a more evenly matched contest. In this case, the result could go anywhere – it depends on the grit, gumption, and technique of the two fighters.
What can we say? Let the betting begin!
Frequently Asked Questions
Does the spider ever win against the wasp?
Despite the fearlessness with which the spider wasp fights with spiders, there are instances when spiders can win in a direct, one-to-one contest.
If the spider is a larger one, such as a goliath birdeater, the sheer size will make it difficult for the wasp to go for its tender area – the abdomen. In such a fight, the spider will eventually come out victorious, either crushing the wasp or letting it fly away.
What does a wasp do to spiders?
Wasps have powerful stingers that can inflict serious pain on anyone they bite. Moreover, they have venom in their sting.
Venom helps to paralyze the insect or bug they are stinging, in this case, a spider. Typically, the wasp will try multiple times to sting at the softer parts of the spider so that the sting can become effective.
Slowly but surely, the spider starts to become paralyzed, and then the wasp simply lugs the spider back to her nest as live food for her larvae.
Do wasps have predators?
Yes, wasps do have their own predators, just like all other creatures on earth. Spiders can eat wasps, as we already said earlier.
But you will be surprised to know that centipedes, beetles, moths, praying mantises, and dragonflies can all kill and eat wasps.
Some might use guile, like the spider’s web, while others, like praying mantises, might use brute force.
What do wasps do to cockroaches?
They do the same thing that they do to spiders – they sting roaches. The female wasp will usually sting the poor roach twice, once in the abdomen, and then the killer shot to the brain.
The venom from the sting will make the roach paralyzed, and as it loses its senses, the wasp drags it back to her lair and plants an egg on it.
When the larvae come out, the roach becomes their first meal.
It’s hard to make a call on the spider vs. wasp debates. They are good points on both sides, but more often than not, it is the size of the species that decides the winner.
Wasps prey on spiders, and spiders on wasps. So both are mortal enemies. And in this eternal fight between two equals, the only referee is mother nature.
Thank you for reading!
Our readers have shared us several examples or the combat between these two might species of the insect world. Do read and watch the battle!
Letter 1 – Spider Wasp with Garden Spider
Nice and fun site. Here’s a spider wasp of some sort dragging what seems to be an orb weaver to its lair. Photgraphed in central Texas (about 70 miles east of Austin) on 9/6/2005. Any idea of the genus and species? Thanks for you reply. Absolutely fine if you post. Charles Vannoy, my father-in-law, took the picture.
We are pretty certain this is an Anoplius Spider Wasp, but the puzzling thing is they prey on Wolf Spiders and Funnel Web Spiders. Yours is preying on a Garden Spider in the genus Argiope. We will get a second opinion when Eric Eaton returns. Here is what Eric has to say: ” The spider wasp with the garden spider is indeed an Anoplius. Good grief, I didn’t realize they could take prey that big!”
Correction: September 2, 2013
Thanks to a correction from Nick in a comment, we can link to BugGuide regarding Poecilopompilus algidus.
Letter 2 – Spider Wasp with prey
AnotherTachypompilus species with Wolf Spider
I am assuming that I am correct on this species (Tachypompilus). But I didn’t know they were in Missouri. Great Website!, the Missouri Conservationist hooked me up with the link, because I sent them this picture!
We agree with your assessment. It is truly amazing how that female wasp struggles with the obviously much larger, and dangerous spider, to feed her young.
Letter 3 – Great Golden Digger Wasp and Tachypompilus species with Wolf Spider
I spotted this wasp burrowing in my lawn today in Rockwall, TX. It doesn’t appear to be any of the species you’ve shown on your site (that I could find anyways). About an hour later, the burrow was completely filled in. Can you identify it? I also took a picture of a wasp dragging a spider about a year back, similar to the Tachypompilus post dated today. I have attached the picture if you’d like to use it.
|Great Golden Digger Wasp||Tachypompilus species|
We actually do have images of Great Golden Digger Wasps, Sphex ichneumoneus, on our site. We are thrilled to post both of your images.
Letter 4 – Spider Wasp and Wolf Spider
One of our readers sent this photo of a spider wasp dragging its prey, a large what appears to be a Wolf Spider, Lycosa rabida, to its nest. Sadly, we have lost her original letter.
Ed. Note: (09/06/2004) Eric just wrote in and gave us an identification on both creatures. Spider wasp is Tachypompilus ferrugineous, and Wolf Spider is Rabidocosa rabida
Letter 5 – Paper Wasp captures Spider
hey, found an interesting looking wasp
i’m a high schooler with a biology project to photograph and identify 50 life forms total, and as i was going to get my lunch one day, i saw this clump moving along a pole, looking closer, i realized it was a wasp carrying away its trophy, a spider from a web about 6 feet further up. I pulled out my camera, amazed by the site, and took a couple photos, looking back at the photos, i realized i didn’t remember ever seeing a wasp like this one. I live in south louisiana, it was a hot and humid day about 2 or 3 weeks ago. i look forward to knowing what species this is.
We are not sure of the species, but this is a Paper Wasp in the genus Polistes. There is a degree of variability that makes exact identification difficult from a photo. Paper Wasps are nectar feeders, but they capture insects and spiders to feed to the young.
Letter 6 – British Spider Wasp with Prey
little spider hunting wasp in action
after perusing some of the great photos on here i thought i’d dig out one of my fav photos; some ‘action’ shots of a 10mm long spider- hunting wasp dragging its paralysed victim back to its lair she seemed very determined and sure of her destination through what would be a mountain range of stones and leaves. i snapped this in the UK last summer. not after an ID (well ok if you want a challenge) just thought i’d share. cheers,
andy (kenilworth, england).
We might eventually identify your Spider Wasp, but for now, we will post it with just the general category.
I thought I might try to look this one up, but I was amazed to find out that even in just the UK alone there are 48 species in the family Pompilidae, spider-hunting wasps!
Letter 7 – Orb Weaver from Spain: Wasp Spider
Hi There, I was wading through a bush at a hotel in Spain (trying to find a ping pong ball infact) and came across this angry looking Spider, almost destroying its web! I have attached a couple of pictures of the spider that i saw, any ideas of what it might be? Thanks
This Orb Weaver is Argiope bruennichi, commonly called the Wasp Spider. Spiders in this genus are also sometimes called Writing Spiders because of the zigzag stabilimentum in the web. We found a website with additional information on this lovely European species.
Letter 8 – Spider Wasp and Wolf Spider
One of our readers sent this photo of a spider wasp dragging its prey, a large what appears to be a Wolf Spider, Lycosa rabida, to its nest. Sadly, we have lost her original letter.
Ed. Note: (09/06/2004) Eric just wrote in and gave us an identification on both creatures. Spider wasp is Tachypompilus ferrugineous, and Wolf Spider is Rabidocosa rabida
Letter 9 – Spider Wasp with prey in South America
Wasp eating large spider
Sat, Jun 20, 2009 at 5:08 PM
We found this wasp eating a large spider. Unusual find… This picture was taken near Vilcabamba, Ecuador.
The wasp is some species of Spider Wasp in the family Pompilidae. We believe the spider is a Huntsman Spider. For clarification, Spider Wasps do not eat spiders. Female Spider Wasps sting and paralyze spiders to provide food for larval wasps. According to BugGuide: “Spider wasps prey on spiders. Some species sting and paralyze their prey and then transport it to a specially constructed nest before laying an egg. Other species leave the paralyzed spider in its nest and lay an egg upon it.” Adult Spider Wasps feed on nectar from flowers.
Letter 10 – Spider Wasp attacking Spider in New Zealand
Spider Eating Bug
November 18, 2009
Dear Bugman, my friend was out in his garden the other day and saw this bug attacking a spider. It eventually carried it off down a hole. The bug was about the size of a small car… or maybe more like 5 or 6 centimetres. Later he found his cat screaming and leaping about with the bug on her back. Are you able to identify this garden terrorist?
Wellington, New Zealand
Though your humor amuses us, we should probably clarify for our readership that the cat was safe from being attacked by this awesome Spider Wasp in the family Pompilidae. We are unable to find a matching species on the Brisbane Insect website, so your specimen might be restricted to New Zealand. Spider Wasps feed on nectar, but the young feed on spiders provided by the female wasp. The female Spider Wasp stings and paralyzes a spider and then buries it after laying an egg. The developing, helpless larva then can feed on fresh meat since the sting paralyzed the spider, but left it alive.
Identification Courtesy of Karl
November 18, 2009
I believe Belinda’s Spider Wasp is Sphictostethus nitidus. The common name is sometimes given as the Golden Hunting Wasp, not to be confused with a completely different Spider Wasp from Australia with the same common name. The website for Landcare Research provides excellent information on this and other New Zealand Spider Wasps, as well as a link to a huge downloadable report on the Pompilidae of New Zealand (No. 12 in the “Fauna of New Zealand” series). According to that document there are only 4 genera and 11 species of Spider Wasps in New Zealand, including one other species of Sphictostethus (S. fugax). So it shouldn’t be too hard to nail down this species if one had the time and stamina to plow through all the information provided. Assuming it is S. nitidus, there are three distinct forms (2 on the North Island and 1 on the South Island), distinguished primarily by the degree and pattern of dark pigmentation on the otherwise yellowish wings. Regards.
Letter 11 – Blue Black Spider Wasp with prey
Shiny purple wasp with wolf spider for thanksgiving feast!!!
December 13, 2009
My family went camping over Thanksgiving this year and while we were sitting around the campfire I saw this wasp. It was searching for the wolf spider that it had paralyzed. When it finally found the spider it tried to drag it up the side of the fire ring. The spider was too heavy, and the wasp kept slipping back down. I got the wasp to drag its prey on to a stick and then took them both out of our campsite. The wasp was about an inch long, with shiny black wings and a metallic purple-blue body. The spider was also about an inch long, had two dark brown spots on its head and three on its abdomen, and brown spots on the underside of its abdomen. Do you know what species these are? Thanks,
You normally write from Oklahoma, but you didn’t indicate if your camping trip was elsewhere. We believe this is a Blue Black Spider Wasp, Anoplius depressipes, which, according to BugGuide, has been reported from nearby Arkansas.
We will contact Eric Eaton to see if he can confirm this identification.
We were camping at Robber’s Cave State Park, which is in southeast Oklahoma.
Update from Eric Eaton
Great images indeed! I agree that this is a spider wasp in the genus Anoplius, but not Anoplius depressipes, which preys mostly on fishing spiders. The prey here is a wolf spider of some kind, family Lycosidae.
Comment July 22, 2014
Subject: Blue Black Spider Wasp
July 22, 2014 6:47 pm
This site is a WONDERFUL resource!
I was working outside in my yard in Lacey, WA, when I saw what appeared to be a spider trying to catch a shiny blue-black flying insect in its web. As I watched with fascination, I wondered why this bug wasn’t getting caught on the web no matter how frenzied the movements of the spider. Then it became obvious the spider was either killed or paralyzed and the bug swiftly removed the spider’s body from it’s legs and took the body down into a crack in the rocks. I didn’t have time to get my camera. Drat!
I ran in the house to find out what this insect is. What’sthatbug.com had great photos of my killer insect via a post titled: Blue Black Spider Wasp with prey, December 16, 2009 · By Josh Kouri
Letter 12 – Spider Wasp with Wolf Spider
Bug from Lignumvitae Key, Florida
March 15, 2010
I took this picture on a wall at Lignumvitae Key near Islamorada in the Florida Keys on March 12, 2010. The unidentified bug was pulling the dead spider behind it.
Lignumvitae Key, Florida
You lovely wasp is a Spider Wasp in the family Pompilidae. The spider is not dead, but rather paralyzed. The spider will be place in the nest and an egg is laid on it the wasp larva consumes the spider while it is still alive. We aren’t sure of the genus or species, but your wasp may be in the genus Priocnessus which is pictured on Bugguide which indicates the prey are Agelenid Spiders that weave funnel webs. The spider in your photo appears as though it may be a Funnel Web Spider.
Correction courtesy of Eric Eaton
March 17, 2010
Hey, I actually went over to the site without prompting the other day:-) I only have a couple corrections, too. Given how overextended you must be right now, I think that only two (minor) errors is amazing. (insert applause here).
The “Spider Wasp With Prey,” dated March 15 is Tachypompilus ferrugineus, and the prey is a wolf spider in the family Lycosidae.
Otherwise, terrific work!
Letter 13 – Spider Wasp (This is Tachypompilus ferrugineus.) captures Spider
this bug killed the wolf spider. what is it??
June 28, 2010
Hi Bug Man. I saw this on the porch Saturday and posted it FB and even my good friend with a BS in Entemology doesn’t know what it is. Help??
This is some species of Spider Wasp in the family Polpilidae. Adult females sting spiders to paralyze them and then drag them to a nest where an egg is laid on the spider. The paralyzed spider provides food for the growing larva. Adult Spider Wasps take nectar from flowers as food. Your photo is quite blurry, but we believe this might be a Spider Wasp in the genus Priocnessus which is profiled on BugGuide which indicates that they prey upon Agelenid Spiders. Spiders in the family Agelenidae (which are also profiled on BugGuide) are known as Funnel Web Spiders, and many species resemble Wolf Spiders, so it is possible the spider in your photo is a Funnel Web Spider, but again, your photo is too blurry to provide anything more conclusive.
Letter 14 – Spider Wasp paralyzes Cane Spider in Hawaii
Location: North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii
October 3, 2010 12:32 am
I don’t have any pictures of the insect we’re looking for, so I’m attaching a picture of the cane spider. I’m sending a youtube video of some sort of insect attacking and then dragging away a poor defenseless cane spider! This video was taken on the island of oahu in hawaii. It seemed to have a large red bum perfect for stinging. My friend and I have googled and googled and we have no clue what kind of insect this is, or whether we should fear for our lives. Any response would be greatly appreciated!
First, the Spider Wasp in your photo is a nectar feeder that is not going to eat the spider she has paralyzed. Spider Wasps are in the family Pompilidae (see bugGuide), which includes such species as the Tarantula Hawks in the North American Southwest, and the beautifully colored Spider Wasps from Australia. We found a photo on the University of Hawaii at Hilo website that sure looks like the Spider Wasp in your video, but alas, it is not identified as to the species.
We were not aware that the Cane Spider which we found on Instant Hawaii, is our old friend Heteropoda venatoria, the Huntsman Spider or Banana Spider, a Central American species that has spread around the world especially warm port cities, because it hitchhiked with banana shipment.
Letter 15 – Spider Wasp Paralyzes Orbweaver
wasp and paralyzed spider
Location: Hyannis Massachusetts
February 4, 2011 10:09 pm
Hi guys, I saw these two locked in combat one summer day in Hyannis, Massachusetts and ran for my camera. By the time I got back it was all over and the wasp had won. In this picture she is dragging the spider to the hole she dug after paralyzing it. I’d like to know the official ID of each of them, especially the spider.
We believe your wasp is a Blue Black Spider Wasp in the genus Anoplius based on information on BugGuide which indicates: “Larvae are provisioned with wolf spiders, funnel web spiders. Many are generalists and will provision with nearly every common family of spider found in North America.” That information is interesting, because Orbweavers are atypical prey. We believe the spider is a Giant Lichen Orbweaver, Araneus bicentenarius, based upon photos on BugGuide.
Correction: September 2, 2013
Thanks to a comment from Nick identifying this as Episyron biguttatus, we can provide a link to the species page on BugGuide which has photos, and the genus page on BugGuide which has information including: “Adults capture orb weavers (Araneidae) (1) to provision their nests. Adults also frequent flowers, especially males” and “Females are fossorial and as stated above provision only with Araneid spiders. They have several generations per year.”
Letter 16 – Spider Wasp preys upon Orbweaver
Spider Wasp vs Garden Spider
Location: Central Arkansas
February 7, 2011 12:59 am
I saw where you thought it was odd that a Spider Wasp would hunt a Garden Spider. Thought I’d throw you a little of my own ”evidence”!
Taken in Central Arkansas, btw.
Signature: Alan D Tetkoskie
Thanks so much for sending your photo. Our statement was based upon information posted on BugGuide and not upon any research in books. Scientific theories are based upon observations, and the camera has provided a marvelous tool to assist in observation and the gathering of data. It would be interesting to determine if certain species in the Blue Black Spider Wasp genus Anoplius have a preference for Orbweavers. When one clicks upon the browse button while on the Anoplius genus page on BugGuide, instead of getting the choice of species, one gets the choice of subgenera, and only upon browsing the individual subgenera do actual species come up. Perhaps an expert in the field will be able to provide us with a comment the clarify if any of the species in the genus Anoplius have evolved a set of spider hunting skills that enable them to specialize in hunting Orbweavers. Thanks again for sending us your documentation.
Correction: September 2, 2013
A comment from Nick indicates this is most likely Poecilopompilus algidus which is pictured on BugGuide.
Letter 17 – Spider Wasp with paralyzed Crab Spider
flower spider for wasp babies.
Location: North Burnett. Queensland
February 18, 2011 11:30 pm
Just spotted this little wasp, about 1cm, making a valiant effort to transport this flower spider to its burrow. It would do a series of three ’flying hops’ and then rest for a few moments. I guess to build up reserves for the next leap.
Hope you like it.
Thanks for your wonderful photo and your observational account of the incident. We generally refer to Flower Spiders from the family Tomisidae as Crab Spiders, but that may be a North American preference. The common name Crab Spider refers to the morphology of the leg structure, with the front legs being the longest, as well as the often sideways means of locomotion commonly used by members of the family. Flower Spider refers to the habit these spiders have of waiting on blossoms for pollinating insects. Spider Wasps in the family Pompilidae take nectar as adults, and the wasps are often found on blossoms. It seems more than a coincidence that this particular Spider Wasp has chosen a Flower Spider as its prey. It might be deduced that the adult Spider Wasp while feeding may also encounter food for its brood. We imagine that in some cases, it is the Spider Wasp that is the victim when it encounters a Flower Spider.
Letter 18 – Spider Wasp attacks Spider in France
Ant-Wasp-Fly attacking and Killing spider!
Location: Pierrefeu, Alpes-Maritimes, France
August 14, 2011 9:25 am
I witnessed this brutal attack and wondered if you could identify both creatures.
The ”Ant-Wasp-Fly” insisted 3 times to chase the spider up a tree and knock it off and eventually managed to put the spider on its back and killed it.
Signature: brutal attack
do you have a higher resolution image?
This was a screen shot of a 720p video (iPhone 4) of the attack. Is there any way I could ‘upload’ that to you?
Though we are hoping for a higher resolution image, we are nonetheless posting this great documentation of a Spider Wasp in the family Pompilidae stinging and paralyzing what appears to be a Wolf Spider. The Spider Wasp does not eat the Spider it has preyed upon. The Spider will provide food for a larval wasp and the female Spider Wasp will provision her nest with paralyzed Spiders so that her brood will have a supply of fresh meat. Dead spiders would dry out, but the paralyzed spider is eaten alive, with the vital organs being eaten last. Though the quality of this image is poor, we believe we have identified the wasp Arachnospila anceps based on a photo on the Commanster Pompilidae page. That identification is further supported by the images posted on the Nature Conservation Imaging web page, but it should be noted that this black and red coloration pattern is not rare in Spider Wasps, and the individual in your photo may be another species. We would still love a higher resolution image if one is available.
PS: I also saw this very similar insect a day later in the same area (see attachment). Maybe it is the same one as in the video link I sent..?
Hi again Raphael,
Spider Wasps in the family Pompilidae take nectar as adults as opposed to feeding as predators. This individual does look very much like the same species in the previously published image.
Letter 19 – Spider Wasp attacks Wolf Spider
Some sort of spider wasp
Location: Bel Air, Maryland, U.S.A.
August 20, 2011 6:14 pm
I was coming back to the house from the garden. I walked around the corner and noticed a wasp fly up and away from a spider. I got to the door and it returned to the spider. I grabbed the camera and tried to get a couple shots. I couldn’t get very close without it flying off. So I snapped a picture from as close as I could get. The spider is pretty large, just slightly smaller than a quarter.
It was about 4 p.m. on August 20 near Bel Air, Maryland. Temperature was about 88F and it was rather humid since we’ve been having thunder storms pretty much ever evening.
I have a larger photo if it will help.
Signature: Greg in Maryland
We are very happy to be posting your thrilling photo to our Food Chain page. You are correct that this is a Spider Wasp. We have identified it as Tachypompilus ferrugineus based on photos posted to BugGuide. Though the curled position of the spider does not permit us to be certain of its identity, we thought it must be either a Wolf Spider or a Funnel Web Spider, but the genus page for Tachypompilus on BugGuide indicates: “Females provision nests mainly with Lycosids.” That would indicate that the spider in your photo is a Wolf Spider.
Letter 20 – Possibly Spider Wasp and Possibly Orbweaver: Food Chain from Congo
Wasp hovering over paralyzed spider
Location: Kisantu, Congo
May 14, 2012 2:24 pm
We found a wasp guarding a spider that was upside down and looked dead. Did this wasp attack the spider and can you tell us was species they are ?
Signature: Katy and her dad
Dear Katy and her dad,
The behavior you describe is very consistent with that of a Spider Wasp in the family Pompilidae. Spider Wasps prey upon spiders not to eat, but to provide food for their young. A female Spider Wasps stings the spider and paralyzes it, but doesn’t kill it. That way the spider remains alive and fresh and provides a living meal for the developing wasp larva. Spider Wasps are often very family specific when it comes to their prey. Your was appears to be a Spider Wasp, and the description on BugGuide includes: “Typically dark colored with smoky or yellowish wings; a few are brightly colored. Slender with long and spiny legs, hind femora typically extending beyond tip of abdomen.” These are characteristics of the wasp in your photo. Based on the eye pattern which is pictured here on BugGuide, we believe your spider is an Orbweaver in the family Araneidae. Exact species identifications are not possible at this time.
Thanks so much Bugman!! We are glad that there are no giant wasps that can do that to us !
Letter 21 – Spider Wasp with Prey
Subject: Spider Wasp
Location: Quakertown, PA, USA
July 24, 2012 8:25 pm
Don’t know if you need other examples… I saw your post on Spider wasps and this image is similar, but different colors.
Signature: Jon Kern
Thanks for sending us your photo of a Spider Wasp with her prey. It should be noted that the Spider Wasp does not eat the Spider, which appears to be a Wolf Spider, but rather she uses it to provision a nest for her brood. We believe your Spider Wasp might be Tachypompilus ferrugineus based on BugGuide photos.
Letter 22 – Spider Wasp with Prey
Subject: wasp carrying spider
Location: San Diego
November 5, 2012 4:51 pm
I photographed this wasp that was carrying off an unfortunate spider, in my back yard. Managed to get a few decent macro pics before they disappeared. Unfortunately I couldn’t locate a nest.
This is a wonderful image of a Spider Wasp in the family Pompilidae with its prey. Female Spider Wasps sting and paralyze spiders. They then drag or fly with the spiders to a usually underground nest and then lay an egg on the spider. The spider is still alive, but helpless, and the developing wasp larva eats it alive. We believe we have identified your Spider Wasp as Dipogon calipterus thanks to this image on BugGuide.
Many thanks. I’ll have to inspect the ground carefully to try to find a nest and try to capture the next stages of the unfortunate spider’s sllow demise.
Please let us know if you do Doug. What’s That Bug? would love to post additional stages in the life cycles of this Food Chain contribution.
Letter 23 – Spider Wasp with Huntsman prey from Australia
Subject: Unkown flying insect dragging a dead spider
Location: South-Eastern suburbs of Melbourne Vic. Aust.
March 20, 2013 4:38 am
I found this page while trying to identify this insect on the various bug sites and having no success, so am hoping that you can identify this insect.
I have never seen one before and was astonished to see it dragging a dead spider up the brickwork next to my front door.
The bricks are 8cm deep and this insect had to be 3.5cm long. It moved very fast and was also able to fly short distances with the dead spider in tow.
The shot was taken in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne at 5.45pm on the 20 March 2013. The weather today was 29c and humidity at about 40%. We have recently had a very dry hot spell of weather with a heavy down pour a few days earlier, so don’t know if this has any bearing on the presence of this insect.
The first photo is the sharpest, but I have included the others even if they are a bit blurred as you can get a side view of the insect .
The insect has a black body and yellow/orange wings, legs and head and it looks like from the 3rd very blurred photo that the rear end tip of the insect is also yellow/orange.
I am really hoping that you can identify it, as everyone I have showed these photos to has never seen anything like it and also has no idea what sort of flying insect it is.
Cheers and Thanks
We could have made your identification by your subject line alone considering the time of year. Each year at this time (winter in our Los Angeles offices but summer in Australia) we receive several submissions of Spider Wasps, often your species which is Cryptocheilus bicolor, dragging Huntsman Spiders in Australia. The spider is actually paralyzed and not dead. The wasp is a female and she will provision her nest with paralyzed spiders to feed her brood. When the eggs hatch, the young larvae will feed upon the nonvital organs first as the helpless spider is eaten alive. Thanks for sending such a wonderful photograph since the ones we posted earlier in the month are blurry.
Wow, Thank you for replying so promptly. A Spider Wasp, amazing, unfortunately, she lost her prey when she tried to drag it through an outdoor blind, so hopefully the spider recovered.
Letter 24 – Another Spider Wasp with Huntsman prey from Australia
Subject: Bug eats bigger spider in Sydney
Location: Sydney, Australia
March 20, 2013 2:20 am
We were sitting in out courtyard in central Sydney this weekend when we noticed an insect trying to drag a much bigger spider into a corner to make a meal out of him. The spider wasn’t moving so we assume he was already dead. We accidentally scared the bug off trying to get some photos but he flew around for a few minutes then came back.
We would love to know what the insect is and also the spider as we are new to Australia and partly freaked and partly fascinated by all the different insects and spiders here.
Signature: S & J
Dear S & J,
Just moments ago, we posted another version of this food chain drama of a female Spider Wasp, Cryptocheilus bicolor, with her Huntsman Spider prey. You can read more about this in our archives. Your photos are awesome.
Letter 25 – Spider Wasp with Wolf Spider in Australia
Subject: Cryptocheilus bicolor and …
Location: Perth, Western Australia
March 28, 2013 2:42 am
Recently captured few images and recognised the wasp from your site as Cryptocheilus bicolor (I think). Was interested to know what kind of spider it was. The picture were taken in Perth, Western Australia.
At first the wasp was the victim, and being dragged by the spider (yesterday). Wasp managed to get a sting in to ”seemingly” paralyse the spider, as it was still alive the following day (today).
The wasp has been dragging the spider around and attempted to get it to it’s nest in the roof… was a bit of a struggle and continually dropped it as it reached ceiling height, only to pick it up and drag it up the wall again! It now lies abandoned on the ground… seems to still have a little bit of life left in it! I think the wasp will be back for it… (?)
Signature: Marlise Nel
Thank you for sending us your wonderful photos and your detailed observations of this Food Chain drama. The Orange Spider Wasp, Cryptocheilus bicolor, feeds on both Huntsman Spiders and Wolf Spiders according to the Brisbane Insect Website. We typically get photos of them feeding on Huntsman Spider and we believe this is the first example we have received of a Wolf Spider as the prey. In your second photo, the face of the spider is perfectly facing the camera, so it was easy to make out the eye arrangement and match it to the eye arrangement of the Wolf Spiders. Spider Eye Arrangements are posted to BugGuide. One correction we would like to make on your observations is your mention of a rooftop nest. Spider Wasps burrow underground, and this spider was intended not as food for the female wasp that hunted it, but rather for her brood. Since it would be nearly impossible for the Spider Wasp to gain altitude from the ground while transporting such a large spider, it is common to see the wasps climb to a height and glide to the nest with the prey in tow. Since we will be away from the office during the holiday, we are postdating your submission to go live early next week.
Delighted to hear from you! Thank you so much for going to the trouble of replying with such detailed information.
Have since seen the videos of her dragging her prey underground 🙂 Horribly cruel, yet resourceful execution…
Letter 26 – Spider Wasp from Australia stalking a Wolf Spider
Subject: What is this bug!!!!
December 12, 2013 5:54 pm
My wife took a photo of this and after a bit of searching, could it be a Spider Wasp?
I have 2 kids under the age of 2 who love to play outside, are they a pest and should i try to exterminate them?
You are correct that this is a Spider Wasp, and it is stalking a Spider in one of your photos. You do not need to fear this Spider Wasp attacking your children unless they look like spiders, which we highly doubt. Female Spider Wasps are more concerned about providing food for their broods than they are about stinging innocent children, though we would not entirely discount the possibility of getting stung if the Spider Wasps are handled or stepped on. Again, we want to stress that they are not aggressive toward humans and we don’t believe there is any need to take the steps to exterminate them, which would probably be nearly impossible anyways. Social Wasps pose a much greater threat because they try to defend their nests, while solitary wasps like Spider Wasps do not have the same defense instincts. We will try to identify both the wasp and the spider after we do some yardwork in our own neglected garden. Alas, you photo does lack critical detail, but the spider appears to be a Wolf Spider. We have nice photos in our archive of a Spider Wasp preying upon a Wolf Spider.
Letter 27 – Will Wolf Spider survive sting from Spider Wasp???
Subject: Spider wasp’s (rescued) victim
August 22, 2014 9:14 am
I saw a wolf spider being attacked by a blue spider wasp today, and I managed to chase away the wasp and rescue the spider. I know some species only temporarily paralyze the victim, and I’ve seen the spider twitch, so…does he have any chance of recovering? I feel bad for intervening, especially since it’s probably too late for the spider, but the poor guy was trying very hard to get away, and I wanted to help him out.
I don’t know what kind exactly the wasp was, but it’s a Michigan variety.
Dear Kitt ,
We have heard of a Tarantula recovering from the sting of a wasp, but the whole purpose of the sting is to paralyze the spider so that it will provide food for the wasp larvae. We are uncertain if it will recover. We have illustrated your posting with an image from our archives.
Thanks for responding, and I’m glad you could answer my question. I’ll keep an eye on the spider. who knows? He might recover soon.
Letter 28 – Spider Wasp preys upon Wolf Spider
Subject: Un-identified flying bug
Location: Boise, Idaho
August 2, 2016 7:19 pm
My wife spotted this bug carrying a large wolf spider up the inside wall if the sprinkler valve box. The spider was still twitching which has lead me to believe this was the killer. I live in Boise Idaho. This was seen today August 1st. Sorry the photos are lousy, I didn’t dare get closer.
Despite the poor quality of your images, this Spider Wasp, Tachypompilus ferrugineus, is quite recognizable. The reason the Wolf Spider was still twitching is that it is still alive. This Spider Wasp will not be eating this Wolf Spider. Like most wasps, Spider Wasps feed upon nectar from flowers and other sweets like overly ripe fruit. This living Wolf Spider has been paralyzed so that it can provide a living food source, meaning fresh meat, for the larva that hatches from the egg the Spider Wasp will lay on the Wolf Spider once she has dragged it to the underground nest she has excavated. According to MOBugs: “The females of this species are expert spider hunters. They seek large species of spiders such as wolf spiders to paralyze. They will sting the spider with a fast acting venom designed to subdue their prey, but not kill it. She will then drag the unfortunate victim to a safe spot and secret it away out of sight. She will then lay her eggs on the spider and leave to hunt for more victims. It takes a few days for the eggs to hatch and during that time the spider will remain very much alive, just in a constant state of paralytic motionlessness. When the eggs hatch they will feed on the spider so lovingly provided for it by its mother. ”
Sounds horrible! Thanks for the quick reply.
Letter 29 – Spider Wasp with Wolf Spider
Subject: Orange body/Blue wing Wasp – dragging/burying spider
Location: Ocala, FL
September 8, 2016 5:45 pm
Saw this the other day and at first thought the spider had the bug, until the bug ran off in circles for a second and then went back and started dragging the spider to a small hole in the sand. He then started to bury the spider. I actually have video, so these are stills. Just wondering what it is and whether or not it is a danger to any pets (assuming you don’t have pet spiders).
We believe your Spider Wasp is Tachypompilus ferrugineus based on images and range information on BugGuide. Of the genus, BugGuide notes: “Adults are often found taking nectar from flowers (Daucus, Pastinaca, and Eryngium). Females provision nests mainly with Lycosids.”
Letter 30 – Spider Wasp with Prey from Australia
Subject: Australian wasp
Location: Hornsby NSW
December 3, 2016 1:03 am
My wife captured this shot in our front garden. I wonder if the wasp removed the huntsman spiders legs for transport purposes?
Signature: Australian wasp
We get several very dramatic submissions from Australia each year of Spider Wasps in the family Pompilidae with Huntsman Spider prey. The female Spider Wasps stings and paralyzes the Huntsman Spider and then drags it back to her burrow where she lays an egg on the paralyzed Spider. When the egg hatches, the wasp larva feeds on the living but paralyzed Spider. It appears that your Spider Wasp has removed the legs of the Huntsman Spider by biting them off in order to make transportation easier. Based on images posted to the Brisbane Insect site, we believe your Spider Wasp is in the genus Fabriogenia.
Letter 31 – Spider Wasp with Prey
Subject: Spider Wasp
Location: Near Pittsburgh PA
July 11, 2017 4:51 am
I’m pretty sure this a spider wasp (Pompilidae) of some sort, but I hope that you can tell what variety.
Signature: Terry M
Based on BugGuide images, we are pretty confident your Spider Wasp is Tachypompilus ferrugineus, and of the genus, BugGuide states: “Adults are often found taking nectar from flowers (Daucus, Pastinaca, and Eryngium). Females provision nests mainly with Lycosids.” Based on that information, the prey is most likely a Wolf Spider.
Letter 32 – Spider Wasp with Prey
Geographic location of the bug: Niagara Falls, Ontario
Time: 12:06 PM EDT
What is this wasp dragging a spider across the deck? The iridescent blue wings and striped body, rusty colored legs and eyes are beautiful. It was very fast but I was able to get a very short video of it.
How you want your letter signed: Dawn
This is a Spider Wasp in the family Pompilidae, and female members of the family hunt and paralyze Spider to feed to the developing brood. Your species, Tachypompilus ferrugineus, does not have a species specific common name. According to BugGuide: “Adults are often found taking nectar from flowers (Daucus, Pastinaca, and Eryngium). Females provision nests mainly with Lycosids” meaning the Spider in your image is most likely a Wolf Spider.
Letter 33 – Spider Wasp with Prey
Subject: Unindentified Wasp kills large weaver spider
Geographic location of the bug: Western Virginia, United States
Time: 04:19 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: I photographed this bright blue- winged, orange bodied wasp? pulling a large weaver spider across the deck and then backwards (up a 20 foot chimney) until out of sight! Please help identify. We have four children in the home and would like to know if this is an aggressive species with a sting anything like a tarantula hawk?? It was upset at the close up photograph,on the deck, it let go of the spider and flew at me. I ran inside for a minute and it went back to the spider.
How you want your letter signed: Naomi, Covington Virginia
This Spider Wasp appears to be Tachypompilus ferrugineus, and it is not an aggressive species. While many wasps are capable of stinging, solitary species like this Spider Wasp very rarely sting people, and generally that happens only when they are carelessly handled.
Letter 34 – Spider Wasp with Wolf Spider prey
Subject: Spider Wasp: Entypus unifasciatus
Geographic location of the bug: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Time: 06:23 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Encountered this Spider wasp attempting to haul off his bounty today…wolf spider. A rather large wolf spider at that.
Respect for anything that takes care of these nasty spiders for me.
How you want your letter signed: Stefanie
Only female Spider Wasps hunt for prey to feed the brood. We agree your wasp is Entypus unifasciatus, and according to BugGuide: “Females dig a burrow that ends in a terminal chamber off of the side of a mammal burrow or large crack in the ground. The serrations on the hind tibiae are used to aid the movement of soil out of the burrow entrance. The position in which the egg is laid is unknown. Larvae feed on one large spider and, as in all Pompilids that have one generation per year, overwinter as pupae.”
Correction: January 23, 2018
In reference to the August 22, 2018 photo of Entypus unifasciatus from Oklahoma City, OK by “Stephanie,” the host spider is Syspira sp. (Prowling spider)(Miturgidae). Of 414 host records for this species of wasp, this is the first host record (1/414, 0.02%) for this family of spider. We do, however, have the same genus and family host record for the congener Entypus aratus from Mexico. We should like to acknowledge “What’s That Bug” and Stephanie for this extremely rare and highly unusual host record. Does Stephanie have a last name to accompany this record in our forthcoming publication on spider wasps? Thank you. Keep up the good work.
Retraction of Correction: March 4, 2019
When I first saw the image I thought it was a lycosid (wolf spider). I sent it to an arachnologist at the CAS and he identified the spider as Genus Syspira, Family Miturgidae. Since then I have consulted two other arachnologists, one from SDSU in CA, and they both informed me that the genus Syspira does not occur in Oklahoma. They checked hundreds of museum records for this genus through a third arachnologist at Colorado State University and the genus does not occur in SE CO nor in N Texas. They think the spider is in the genus Hogna (Lycosidae) but cannot be certain because, unfortunately, they cannot see the eye arrangement from the side view photograph. I’ve sent your higher resolution out for additional study but, since the genus Syspira does not occur in Oklahoma, this is probably a moot exercise. Thank you for your effort in aiding this identification dilemma.
Letter 35 – Spider Wasp with Prey
Subject: Spider Wasp
Geographic location of the bug: Omaha, Nebraska
Time: 03:44 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: I thought this was one bug when I saw it out the corner of my eye. Nope! It was a wasp carrying a big spider.
How you want your letter signed: Alissa Apel
Your images of a female Spider Wasp with her prey are awesome. The Spider wasp is Entypus unifasciatus and the prey is likely a large Wolf Spider.
Letter 36 – Spider Wasp and Wolf Spider prey
Subject: Spider wasp and prey
Geographic location of the bug: Charleston, Illinois
Time: 01:11 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Saw you were looking for a image of this spider and its prey. Just a cell phone picture but shows key features.
How you want your letter signed: Christopher S
Thanks so much for submitting your awesome image of a Spider Wasp, Entypus unifasciatus, and its Wolf Spider prey. The Wolf Spider will not be eaten by the Spider Wasp. She feeds on nectar from flowers, and the paralyzed Wolf Spider will provide fresh food for a larval Spider Wasp which will eat its paralyzed meal alive.
Letter 37 – Spider Wasp preys upon Crab Spider
Subject: Carting off a big prize
Geographic location of the bug: Southwest Ohio
Time: 01:40 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: I was gardening when I noticed a little spider being dragged through the grass. I thought at first that an ant was bringing it home, but maybe not. It was making all sorts of enthusiastic abdominal movements I assumed were pheromone deposits. Definitely had wings and a more fly-like face. Thanks!
How you want your letter signed: Kitsa
The predator in your images is a Spider Wasp in the family Pompilidae, and the prey is a Crab Spider, probably a Flower Spider, Misumena vatia. The Spider Wasp will not be eating the Crab Spider. Rather, the Spider Wasp will place the paralyzed Crab Spider in an underground burrow so that the larval Spider Wasp will have a fresh source of food. The pattern on the wings of the Spider Wasp are rather distinctive, and it appears that it might be Dipogon calipterus which is pictured on BugGuide.
Letter 38 – Spider Wasp with Prey
Subject: Identify this wasp
Geographic location of the bug: Greensboro,NC
Time: 09:27 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: I was hiking a trail at battleground park with my fiance in Greensboro and we came across this wasp dragging a spider twice it size on the trailer were walking. Would you let us know what it is.
How you want your letter signed: Jrp
This is a Spider Wasp in the family Pompilidae, and though your image lacks the necessary detail for a definite identification, we believe your individual is Tachypompilus ferrugineus. This species preys upon Wolf Spiders, not to eat, but to feed to her brood.