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Tarantula hawk

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Tarantula hawk
Tarantula fha1wk.jpg
Scientific Classification
  • Pepsis
  • Hemipepsis

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The Tarantula Hawk wasps are species of spider wasps within either the genera Pepsis or Hemipepsis. It was given its name because their main prey is theTarantula. They hunt tarantulas as food for their larva.[1] The Bodies of these creatures are usually thick which provides good protection when "fighting" with the tarantulas. Tarantula Hawks are found nearly everywhere Tarantulas are present. There are at least nine known species living in the United States. Very few are the predators of the Tarantula Hawk due to their poisonous and paralyzing stingers. One of the main predators is the Road Runner. The Tarantula hawk is a nectivorous organism which means that it consumes nector. [2]


The size of a Tarantula Hawk is usually about two inches in length. Their bodies usually have a black or red coloring, with a rust color on their wings. The rust color on their wings, which is usually bright, is used to show it's predators that it is very dangerous to eat them. A very useful characteristic they possess is the unusually long legs for a wasp, which have hooked claws enabling them to grapple or hold on to their tarantula victims. The biggest defense organ that they possess is their stinger, which for the females may reach up to 1/3 of an inch long.


The Tarantula Hawk, among other of the wasp family, reproduce sexually. Their bright coloring, besides warning off predators, also helps to attract mates. When the larva are born, they are in eggs. When the female is ready to lay it's eggs, it begins its hunt. [3] The male performs an action known as "hill-topping". It was given this name because the males sit on top of hills and look for the females who are ready to reproduce. [4]

Hunting And Feeding

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Tarantula Hawk digging a hole.
Capturing prey.

When the female Tarantula Hawk is ready to lay its eggs, it roams the area either for a male roaming for a mate or may hunt down a female which has made its home in a burrow. The Tarantula Hawk Wasp will often disturb the web, to draw out the spider from the burrow.[5] The wasp uses it's stinger to paralyze the tarantula, until it is able to drag the tarantula into the whole which it has previously made. But this is not easy task for the wasp. The Tarantula hawk then lays a single egg on the back of the paralyzed tarantula. When the larva hatches, it sucks juices and nutrients from the living tarantula. When the larva matures and grows, the tarantula dies and the feeding process begins. It begins to feast on the now dead tarantula but avoids the major organs so that i can keep the dead body as fresh as possible for as long as possible.[6] This in itself proclaims the brilliance of God, and how he created all things to work for one purpose and with so much intelligence. At this time the adult begins the whole process over again.

The Sting

The sting of a Tarantula hawk is among one of the most painful of any insect in the world. The excruciating pain that the sting causes, especially Pepsis formosa, shuts down a persons ability to do anything. One researcher said that the pain is so agonizing that it would make you,"curse your mother for even having you." The sting is so paralyzing that it is listed on the top ten of Schmidt Sting Pain Index. Although the sting is extremely tormenting for minutes following the sting, the lasting effect is less fatal than a simple bumble bee. [7]

The Habitat And Other Facts

Tarantulas are widely distributed in many countries such as India, Southeast Asia, Africa, Australia, and the even the United States. The Tarantula Hawk has been know to live as far north as Oregon, in the United States. There are approximately 250 species of Tarantula hawk which live in Southern America. Most of these species fall under Pepsis formosa and Pepsis thisbe. The Tarantula Hawk is mostly active during the daytime but works to avoid the very hot climates. Species may differ in the color.[8]


Related References

See Also

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