Thursday, August 10, 2006

Tarantula Hawk?!?!?

I was minding my own business, walking around the property the other day when I saw this 2 inch long black thing with wings, flying around. I was amazed because I had never seen anything like this. I asked a few people what it could be and lo and behold, it led me to the Tarantula Hawk.

Upon researching this little creature I came upon the following descriptions:

  • The tarantula hawks prefer female tarantulas and seek them in their burrows. They capture (often following a dramatic battle), sting and paralyze the spider. Next they either drag the spider back into her own burrow or transport their prey to a specially prepared nest where a single egg is laid on the spider’s body, and the entrance is covered. The wasp larva, upon hatching, begins to suck the juices from the still-living spider. After the larva grows a bit the spider dies and the larva plunges into the spider's body and feeds voraciously, avoiding vital organs for as long as possible to keep it fresh.
  • The sting, particularly of Pepsis formosa, is among the most painful of any insect. Commenting on his own experience, one researcher said, "You will curse your mother for ever having you." Another described, "...immediate, excruciating pain that simply shuts down one’s ability to do anything, except, perhaps, scream. Mental discipline simply does not work in these situations." Yet another said, "It's not like things that make you swear and say bad things about somebody's mother. These things, when you get stung, you might as well lie down and scream. Why not? It takes your attention off the pain." It is listed near the top of the list in Schmidt Sting Pain Index.
I have no shame in saying I ran when I saw this buzzing around.

Now I know where Ridley Scott and Dan O'Bannon got the idea for Alien. If you see this thing, run!

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