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Spider Wasp (Auplopus) (Auplopus mellipes)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Spider Wasp (Auplopus)

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Spider Wasps become unexpected friends to other insects by eliminating a shared predator.

Updated: 01/05/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Spider Wasps are wasps that hunt spiders. This black and orange species attacks Jumping spiders and paralyzes them. The wasp may even yank off a few, or all, of a spider's legs to expedite transporting it to its nest. The wasp's jaws are strong and it holds onto a spider as the wasp walks, or flies the spider back home. This species is capable of a painful sting and is best given a wide berth, especially if it is a nesting female. This species can be found in woods, forests, and other habitats that allow for good hunting.

Spider wasps create nests from mud pots that have been used and abandoned by Mud Daubers, another type of wasp. A female drops the paralyzed spider in one of the pots and lays a fertilized egg in there with it. She closes the pot with mud or plant debris. Once the wasp larva hatches, it eats the internal parts of the spider as it grows. Although the larva is carnivorous in a parasitic way, the diet of wasp adults changes to flower nectar.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Insect stinger icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Hymenoptera
        Family: Pompilidae
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          Genus: Auplopus
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            Species: mellipes

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Auplopus mellipes
Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Size (Adult; Length): 20mm to 36mm (0.78" to 1.41")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; orange
Descriptors: flying; stinging; mud; pots; barrels

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 20mm (0.8in) and 36mm (1.4in)
Lo: 20mm
Md: 28mm
Hi: 36mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Spider Wasp (Auplopus) may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Spider Wasp (Auplopus). Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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