L=up to 2" (50mm). Overall irridescent blue-black, with bright
orange, red, or irridescent black wings.
NATURAL HISTORY: Adults feed on nectar and pollen, but larvae feed on
tarantulas. After mating, females search
the ground for tarantulas or occupied tarantula burrows. Once a burrow
is found, they coax the tarantula into coming out by vibrating the tarantula's
silk webbing at the entrance to its burrow like a prey item would vibrate
the webbing. When the tarantula comes out, the female stings the tarantula,
paralyzing it. The female then has to drag the tarantula to a burrow
the wasp has dug. After stuffing the tarantula into the burrow, the
female lays one egg on the tarantula, exits, and fills in the burrow.
When the larval wasp hatches, it begins feeding on the still-paralyzed
tarantula, beginning first with the non-essential organs. After about
30 days, the wasp larva has finally consumed most of the tarantula (which
now dies), and the larva pupates and eventually metamorphoses into an
tarantula hawks are aposematically-colored
for a reason -- they give the most painful sting
of any insect in the U.S. or Mexico. However, they are not aggressive,
and you usually need to handle the wasp to get stung.