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Tarantula Hawk

Tarantula Hawks are members of the wasp family. They are quite a large insect and have 1.0 to 1.75 inch long blue-black bodies and bright red or orange wings. There are more than a dozen species of Tarantula Hawk in the Sonoran Desert.

Natural History

Tarantula Hawks get their name from their hunting strength and the fact that they prey on Tarantula Spiders. In the summer, female wasps hunt for tarantulas. Once one is found it attacks and stings it with its paralyzing venom. It then drags the limp spider into a hole and lays a single egg on the helpless, but living spider, then seals up the burrow.

Tarantula Hawks are said to have the most painful sting of any insect in North America, though they rarely use it on humans.

When the egg hatches, the larva consumes the spider and then pupates. The next spring the adult emerges to complete the life cycle. Male Tarantula Hawks do not hunt.

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