Friday, May 05, 2017

Hawkish Reproduction

As if tarantulas weren't bad enough.

The insect in the photo above is called a Tarantula Hawk.

They hunt tarantula spiders.  Named for their huge size and hawk-like hunting strength, they find tarantulas by smell.  Which leads me to wonder what the hell a tarantula smells like.

According to the Desert Museum's website, "During the warm months female wasps search the ground for tarantulas. Once prey is located, the tarantula hawk bites onto a leg of the tarantula and with its long, strong, sharp stinger, pierces the spider near a leg base, and injects paralyzing venom. The limp, but living, spider is dragged into an appropriate hole, sometimes the spider's own burrow, where a single egg is laid on the spider's abdomen. The wasp then seals the burrow to complete her work."

How diabolical is that??  They drag a 3" tarantula (um, that's big!) into a hole and then lay an egg on the abdomen of the spider!

From Wikipedia:  "Sex of the larvae is determined by fertilization; fertilized eggs produce females, while unfertilized eggs produce males. When the wasp larva hatches, it creates a small hole in the spider's abdomen, then enters and feeds voraciously, avoiding vital organs for as long as possible to keep the spider alive. After several weeks, the larva pupates. Finally, the wasp becomes an adult and emerges from the spider's abdomen to continue the life cycle."  Holy crap.  And, eww! 

These wasps catch your eye because a) they're fucking giant, b) they have the longest, most dangly legs I've ever seen on an insect, just swinging in the breeze as they fly by, and c) they have very bright blue-black bodies and bright orange wings.  Did I mention they're huge?  Apparently, the bright coloration is a warning sign, called aposematism, advertising to predators and prey the harm they can inflict.  Sort of like those brightly colored poisonous tree frogs.  So while we're saying, "Wow.  Look at those amazing colors!  Sooo pretty!", the animals/insects/etc. are telling us to stay far, far away because they're ready to put a hurtin' on us.

The docent at the Desert Museum told me their sting is considered the most painful of any insect sting in the world.  In. The. World.  Their stingers can be up to 1/4" long!! I guess the only consolation is that they don't usually sting without provocation and although painful, with the exception of someone having an allergic reaction, you won't die from it.  Even though you may prefer death at the moment you're experiencing blinding, paralyzing pain.

I'm a definite wuss when it comes to flying things.  I don't even like the harmless gnat or housefly. They just freak me out.  And I'm afraid I'll throw my shoulder out with all the frantic waving I do to get them to stay away from me.

I trying to step out of my comfort zone by finding ways to incorporate a little more outdoor time into my life - mainly to please Ed, who likes to be outside, but also to do things that give us the opportunity to meet more people - but the creatures (scorpions, tarantulas, snakes, lizards, wasps, etc.) that come with outdoor life are really challenging my endeavor.

FYI - there are no giant wasps in my living room.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2012: No, That’s Not New Car You’re Smelling
2011: On A Triple D Roll
2010: Watt A Work Of Art – Part Two
2009: Stupid Should Be An Abomination
2008: The Fine Line Between Compliments And Creepiness
2007: The Antenna Ball Beneath My Wings
2006: Mexico? Where In Tarnation Is That??
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!


TroyNtsn said...

You crack me up! I really enjoy your posts. Today was especially useful, as I've just spent 4.5 hours updating SQL reports, and figuring out other people's work. This was a great diversion. Thank you.

Belledog said...

That's fascinating. Never heard of a tarantula hawk, and will steer clear if I ever see one in life, in flight. What a disastrous end for the tarantula.

The circle of life. Is red in tooth and claw.

Happy Monday!