Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Strafed By A Tarantula Hawk

I was strafed by a Tarantula Hawk for the first time this year, while weeding & picking up trash and cigarette butts from my front yard yesterday. The body the size of a jump drive, and wings that sound like dry paper fans slapping, these massive insects always startle me a little bit when they fly close by.

I know they're not interested in me, since I have just 2 legs and not 8, but it's a little unnerving to have them flying within arm's reach (mine, not theirs) .

My milkweed's flowers look just like these (sans mites in the close-up). The tarantula hawks get "drunk" on the milkweed nectar, and tend to fly in slow lazy circles after feasting. I don't want one of these girls mistaking me for a threat.

I've not yet seen a tarantula or scorpion ("Rock you like a hurricane!") in my yard... but I know they exist in the Sonoran desert. As our sub division is built upon reclaimed farm land, the Orkin Pest control told me that the residual pesticides the farmers used cleared out most all of the indigenous ground critters years before the homes were built. That has a good foreboding for termite eradication as well, since we have only the ground dwelling ones here, and not the swarming Formosan termites that the South East US and Hawaii tend to get.


  1. The ones that run...are tarantulas...the ones that stand still...are well-disciplined tarantulas!"

  2. LMAO! You keeeeeel me!

    I was waving a pruned palm branch to dissuade this large airborne critter from making a direct pass at me - I often use pruned branches to destroy black widow spider webs... if the web comes back... the arachnid is still there.

    Too bad the tarantula hawks don't eat black widows!

  3. Do those tarantula killers diet on scorpions and camel spiders?

  4. I don't think they do, since only the females hunt (males just drink nectar and copulate, imagine that! lol), and while the females have been seen hunting wolf spiders, tarantula, and other spiders in the day time, they don't often hunt at night when scorpions come out. A good article on it is here: http://www.desertusa.com/mag01/sep/papr/thawk.html The female kills a tarantula to lay an egg on it, in the tarantula lair, and since scorpions and camel spiders don't really have "lairs" the the same sense that a tarantula does, I think it is unlikely that they could serve as prey to a tarantula hawk.

  5. Doubtful that it could, unless the human was perhaps an infant, or immuno-compromised. A healthy adult human would have a painful sting for sure, but death would be unlikely. The wasp is not interested in humans, they're far too big to be considered viable prey.


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