Animal of the Week – Tarantula Hawk Wasp
So far, I’ve been pretty slack at representing the diverse range of insects across the globe. So for the very last AOTW of the year, let me present to you the Tarantula Hawk Wasp.
This voracious critter gets its name from the way it aggressively hunts Tarantulas. The female hawk wasp injects these spiders with a paralyzing sting, drags her prey into an underground burrow and lays an egg on top of the tarantula’s body. When this egg hatches the wasp larva is able to enjoy a delicious meal of paralyzed spider. The larva is particularly careful to avoid the tarantula’s vital organs, keeping it alive and fresh for as long as possible. As if this wasn’t enough, the sting of the tarantula hawk wasp is described by the Schmidt Sting Pain Index as if “a running hair-dryer has been dropped into your bubblebath” and is rated only slightly less painful than the bite of a bullet ant.
Surprisingly, adult hawk wasps are nectarivores, feeding off the flowers of milkweeds or sweet fermenting fruit. The natural alcohol in this fruit often gets hawk wasps as crunk as a first year on a Wednesday night and they have been described by one random internet blogger as doing “nosedives into the swimming pool for no apparent reason, crashing into me, falling to the ground and just laying there flailing about.” AOTW OTP.