Thursday, December 27, 2012

A critter in the RGV that’s hard to stomach…

Tarantula Hawk

Bentsen Palm Sunrise 3This part of Texas is not only known for birds as naturalists from everywhere hang around the Rio Grande Valley in search of many other critters besides birds. Most notable are the butterflies and from what I can tell these folks can be as rabid as the most rabid birders I have run across. However, everyone I have known that has an interest in nature simply loves all the other things of beauty in our natural world as well.

Gulf FritillaryWhile hiking in the state park nearby I noticed a rather large looking creature buzzing around the top of a bush. Upon closer inspection I had discovered a Tarantula Hawk (see header photo). These two inch long wasps prey on Tarantulas and other spiders. Beware of this wasp because the stinger of a female tarantula hawk can be up to 1/3 in long, and her sting is considered amongst the most painful insect stings in the entire world. YIKES!!!

An interesting excerpt from Wikipedia about these wasps is below:

The female tarantula hawk captures, stings, and paralyzes the spider, then either drags her prey back into her own burrow or transports Fiery Skipperit to a specially prepared nest, where a single egg is laid on the spider’s abdomen, and the entrance is covered. 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.

Queen Butterfly I was there actually looking to expand my knowledge on butterflies but was glad to find this fascinating wasp along the way.I did have the opportunity to see and photograph several butterfly species as can be seen in the photos in today’s blog. The Queen, Fiery Skipper and Gulf Fritillary were patient enough for me to take their pictures but the beautiful Green Malachite that I chased around was not…

Even though I was out to look for butterflies there was plenty else to see. It just goes to show you that if you are out in the natural world you never know what you might stumble upon.…


  1. You should turn these photos into notecards. The flowers are just as beautiful as the butterflies. Even the Tarantula Hawk is stunning but I would keep my distance from that one.

  2. Great story about the wasp, and great photos as well. See y'all in a few days. Snow here in Arkansas! Ugh!

  3. When we lived in AZ these wasps never failed to frighten me!