Pterodattilo  BACK ON AIR
 HOME   ::   Tarantula :: Spiders Home  



TARANTULA HAWK
Pepsi Wasp



Order: Hymenoptera
Sub-Order: Apocrita
Family: Pompilidae
Genus: Pepsis
Species: more than 250


Male size: 50 mm
Female size: 50 mm

Habitat: Open and desert areas

Range: USA - Argentina

Identification

Pepsis wasp, as it's also known, is characterized by a sparkling black/blue body and glittering red/orange to black wings. It's an aposematically coloured insect warning its approaching predator about of the imminent danger. Tarantula hawk is rather hardy to face the engagement with tarantula, normally it's not aggressive and needs to be taunted to sting, not a useless detail considering the dreadful pain provoked by its puncture.


Behaviour

Adult Tarantula Hawk is most active in summer, during the day, nectar and pollen are the basis of wasp alimentation but its larvae need a tarantula-nursery to feed. After mating, the female starts the tarantula's hunt based on olfactory perception and when it finds a occupied burrow it acts as potential prey touching on the silk web surrounding the entrance, this incites tarantula to get out of its hole but the wasp can also enter the burrow and expel the spider. The duel always signs the death of one of the competitors, first the wasp probes and teases the spider with its antennae but it tries to sting when the rival stays baring its fangs or after flipping it over on its back. Once stung the spider paralyses and the wasp can feed of it but principally carries it back in its hole (or digs a new one), deposits a unique egg in spider abdomen and finally seals the chamber. After the egg hatching, the grub attached to spider abdomen starts feeding; the spider is still alive, the larva eats first the not vital parts of its body and only after the moult (nearly 30 days) the feeding process decrees the long-awaited tarantula's end. Male wasps fight for taller vegetations and high points from where they can better perceive the presence of receptive females. This particular behaviour is known as "hill-topping".