The Insanely Powerful Sting Of The Tarantula Hawk
LifeAspire Staff 7/12/2017
Bugs might be tiny compared to our size, but that hasn't stopped us from being terrified of how they look and what they are capable of doing. While a sting from a bee or a bite from a mosquito is enough to drive many of us crazy, there are much worse critters out there with levels of pain inducing stingers that we should all be thankful to have never encountered.
One such bug, with a rather edgy name - Tarantula Hawk - is truly what some nightmares are made of. Part of the spider wasp family, tarantula hawk is so named because its favorite food is, you guessed it, the tarantula. Simply put, anything that feasts on another equally creepy animal can't be good news when it comes in contact with a human.
Surprisingly enough, despite its predatory capabilities (or maybe because of it) this two-inch, black-and-blue spider wasp was named the state insect of New Mexico! This factoid might seem odd, until you consider just how the tarantula hawk goes about its business.
The danger of a tarantula hawk lies in its stinger. The female wasp is said to have a stinger that is powerful enough to paralyze the tarantula indefinitely, at which point she carries the prey to her nest and lays one egg in its abdomen.
The egg uses the non-essential internal organs of the tarantula as food while keeping it just alive enough to sustain it until it hatches. It truly is very gory and not something we imagine a little bug to be capable of doing!
Surprisingly, the male tarantula hawk is a little less scary than its fierce female counterpart, and eats only the flowers of milkweeds, western soapberry trees, or mesquite trees.
Thankfully, this paralyzing stinger only works for tarantula's and not on humans. While a sting from the tarantula hawk is perhaps one of the most painful things a human will experience (some sources call it the worst insect bite in the United States), it is not deadly.
Beside leaving the unsuspecting and unfortunate human in screaming pain for a little while, and numbing the skin around the sting, there are no other dangers that might make it a life or death situation. Funny enough, if stung, sources claim that the best thing to do is just lie down and scream!
Even still, it is helpful to know just where tarantula hawks live and how to avoid them. In the United States, these wasps tend to live in desert regions where there are plenty of tarantulas to feast on. They are most active during the summer season during the day and tend to find their preys with there strong sense of smell.
Here is the tarantula hawk vs. the tarantula - it's no competition really!
Male or female, avoiding them is still a good idea since like the bee, this spider wasp is said to sting humans when annoyed or provoked.
So hopefully, wherever you live, we hope you don't have a first hand encounter with this crazy spider wasp this summer! And just in case you are unfortunate enough to be stung, remember the advice - lie down and scream - and let the pain pass!
Sources: Rare, Wikipedia, Desert USA, Wired FB Image Credit: Flickr/Pavel Kirillov