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Insects are Amazing: Tarantula Hawk

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

Tarantula Hawk

Male Tarantula Hawk

If you live in the southwestern part of the United States and you venture outside during the summer for a hike, you most likely have seen these very large Blue and orange insects walking around on the ground looking for something. If you do come across one scurrying about on the ground that would be the female Tarantula Hawk. The female is the only one that hunts and has a stinger. This stinger can be 1/3 of an inch long and is said to be one of the most painful stings in the world. The sting from a Tarantula Hawk is rated on a Pain Level 4 of the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, second to the Bullet ant.

A full-grown adult female Tarantula Hawk wasp can easily be 2 1/2 inches long with a 4-inch wing span. The male Tarantula Hawk is much smaller, with straight antenna and NO Stinger because he doesn't hunt. The one item both males and females have in common is they feed on nectar from flowers, not on Tarantulas. The Tarantula plays a better role in the life of the Tarantula Hawk.

Dead  Desert Tarantula

After mating the female will dig a burrow with her legs and jaws. Once she is happy with the future nest of her young, she will go on the hunt for a Tarantula. The hunt usually takes place around dusk, this is when the prey is most active. She will fly from hole to hole trying to locate a tarantula, and when she finds one she will dance around it to get it confused then flip over on her back and work her way under the spider to sting it. The spider is paralyzed in seconds and then dragged to the Tarantulas Hawk's prepared nest where she will lay a single egg on the spider's abdomen. She will then seal up the hole and stand guard over her parasitic youngster.

Tarantula Hawk
Tarantula Hawk

The next phase is out of a Ridley Scott movie. Once the egg hatches the larva will burrow into the spider avoiding the major organs to feed on none essential items while the spider lives on. Upon maturity, the fully grown Tarantula Hawk will burst from the spider husk-like an Alien.

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