Tuesday, August 18, 2009

More bugs

I was playing with my dog this evening and seen a red and black streak go by, close to the ground. I immediately ran for my camera. I had wanted to get a picture of one of these wasps for a long time. It was a Tarantula Killer. It's a huge wasp, second in size only to the Cicada Killer for wasps in central Texas. This one was almost two inches long. They have bright red wings and an evil black body, the kind of black like a Black Widow spider. Like all non nest wasps they are very non aggressive. Even though they will take other spiders, Tarantulas are their main prey. They only take the male Tarantulas as the females are just to big for them to fly with. It's hard to believe that this wasp can fly while holding onto it's prey that is several times bigger than it is. However I know this to be true as Lyn and I got to witness it at our house when we lived in Liberty Hill. We had been working in the garden and were sitting on the porch steps, resting and enjoying a Shiner. I saw the Killer looking around and under the rocks that made up our walkway. I started to explain to Lyn about them when suddenly the wasp went under a rock and drug out a Tarantula. He had a hard time of it. When they were out in the open, the fight was on. It actually looked like the spider was winning for a while. We noticed that the spider started to slow down in it's movements. The wasp flew off. I thought, what's going on here, you kicked his butt and now your leaving. I have learned since then, the wasp was checking on the hole that the spider would go in. A little while later the wasp returned, flipped the spider on it's back, folded it's legs together neatly, grabbed onto the legs, and flew off, low to the ground. I felt that this spider was about as big as this wasp could handle as it could barely fly with it. You see, the wasp didn't kill the spider, it merely paralyzed it. If it had killed the spider it would rot before the egg that the wasp would lay on it, would hatch. The wasp stuffs the spider into a hole, lays an egg on it and covers it up. When the larvae hatches it eats the paralyzed, but still fresh spider. [This is where the much more computer savvy, Philip, at ESP blog, would insert a picture of the guys in the Alien movies all trussed up, but still alive] Think about this, for every egg that the wasp lays, it has to risk it's life fighting a much larger prey. I like 'em.


4 comments:

Tabor said...

Mother nature can do some creepy stuff. I guess I am glad that you did not get a picture of the battle.

Mike said...

Great picture and story. I saw one of these around my house in Oak Hill and wondered what it was exactly. I'm adding "witness wasp vs. tarantula battle" to my list of things to do before I die!

katina said...

You know me, I'd probably go screaming the other way. :)

Lancashire rose said...

We have also had a tarantula killer here and we caught him with a tarantula(baby) That was how we came to identify him. He spent the day dragging this t from the back of the house to the front. We never did find out where he was going. Every year we have the cicada killers too. They came in with some red death! When I see piles of soil in the garden I know they have been at work digging their tunnels to lay their eggs. It really is fascinating.