Tarantula hawk

  • Tarantula hawk feeding from flower.
  • Female tarantula hawk with a Texas brown tarantula.
  • Texas sized tarantula hawk and Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS) blimp.

An intriguing West Texas insect is the tarantula hawk. These wasps are terrifying looking with their metallic blue-black two-inch bodies, orange wings, and long stingers, and they are considered to have the second most painful sting in the world. However, they rarely attack humans– unless provoked, and their sting is not highly toxic to us.

During monsoon season, when a tarantula hawk is ready to reproduce, it will seek out a tarantula to attack and paralyze. Approaching the tarantula, the wasp will fly under its abdomen, flip it over, and then sting it, paralyzing the spider. Few people have seen the tarantula win in this duel. The wasp will then drag the tarantula’s body back to a pre-dug den, lay its egg on it, and leave the egg to hatch. Once the egg hatches, the larva enters the still living but paralyzed tarantula, and feeds from within its body. Once the larva is an adult wasp, it will emerge from the spider’s abdomen, having saved the vital organs for its last carnivorous meal. The emerging adult tarantula hawk will now feed on flower nectar, pollen, and fruit juices, which assists with plant pollination.

Often these wasps are described as a creature out of a science fiction novel or movie. Can you create an insect or creature that might be straight out of science fiction? What would they look like, where would they live, and what powers might they possess? Are they good or are they evil? Can you develop a short graphic story about this creature?