Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A New Meaning to Creepy Crawly

Just below Bruce's little finger is one of the largest wasps to be found: a tarantula hawk (Genus: Pepsis). This is an amazing creature that stings, captures and drags tarantula spiders off to its "lair," aka specially prepared nest.

What happens next, you won't believe. The wasp lays its egg on the spider. The hatched larva feeds on the living spider -- saving the spider's vital organs for last in order to keep it alive longer -- before emerging from the nest as an adult. Tarantulas are not small spiders -- they are about the size of the palm of your hand. Check out the wasp above -- it's fully a couple inches long!

There are many species of tarantula hawk throughout the USA and into South America. We've encountered them frequently in and around Chan Chich Lodge/Gallon Jug Estate. It's only recently that I learned that its sting is rated as one of the most painful of any insect, apparently excruciating.

Not to worry. Fortunately, the tarantula hawk shows little interest in humans and we've never heard of any one being stung by one of these amazing, if somewhat creepy, creatures.


  1. Carolyn -

    One of my colleagues at work was stung by a tarantula hawk on the finger. The wasp landed on her neck and she automatically reached up to brush off "whatever it was". The pain, she said was awful and then her finger got numb and she lost sensation in it for, I think she said several days. Apparently our nerves respond to the sting much as do those of a spider.


  2. Well, I guess I will be keeping my distance from tarantula hawks, given that story. I never worried much about them.

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