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Tarantula Hawk Pest Profile

tarantula_hawk_02 tarantula_hawk_01Common Name:
Tarantula Hawk

Scientific Name:
Pepsis species

Order and Family:
Pompilidae, Spider Wasps

Description:
1/2-3/4″ (12-20 mm). Short “waist” (pedicel) between thorax and abdomen. Velvety black. Wings reddish to orange, darker and less transparent at tip and base.

Food:
Adult drinks nectar. Larva feeds on tarantulas and trapdoor spiders.

Life Cycle:
Female stings spider between legs, immobilizing it. The female quickly digs a burial chamber, drags the spider inside, lays an egg, and closes burrow. Wasp larva feeds on spider, eventually killing it.

Habitat:
Dry hillsides and rolling arid plains.

Range:
California to Mexico.

Discussion:
Tarantula hawks are primarily tropical, but several large species are found in the Southwest.

WARNING: Female stings, but only if provoked.

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