Tarantula Hawk (Pepsis species)
Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Tarantula Hawk.
Updated: 1/30/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The Tarantula Hawk is a parasitic wasp that uses the spider to feed its young in a macabre scene one expects in a horror story.
Adult Tarantula Hawks feed primarily on nectar though the females will actively hunt tarantulas for more nefarious reasons. Tarantula Hawks can deliver a sting that is very painful to people, but downright paralyzing to tarantulas. Once paralyzed, the poor and helpless tarantula is brought back to the Tarantula Hawk's burrow. To add more agony to the fate of the unfortunate tarantula, it is usually buried alive (still paralyzed) with some Tarantula Hawk eggs. The newly hatched larvae will immediately begin to feed on the tarantula until it is consumed.
Male and female Tarantula Hawks vary in subtle ways. Male antennae are straight and their abdomens are segmented into 7 sections. Female antennae are curved and their abdomen has only 6 segments. Tarantula Hawks take on many shades of black, but the orange wings always contrast with their dark bodies, making it easier to identify them.