Brave Wilderness: Stung by a Tarantula Hawk!

VIEWER DISCRETION: On this episode of Breaking Trail, Coyote Peterson gets stung by a terrifying Tarantula Hawk, Pepsis thisbe — very similar to Pepsis grossa.

The two species, Pepsis thisbe and Pepsis grossa are difficult to distinguish, but the majority of Pepsis grossa have metallic blue bodies and reddish antennae, which separates them from Pepsis thisbe. Both species have bright orange wings that become transparent near the tip.

The Tarantula Hawk lives in the deserts of the southwestern United States. The female Tarantula Hawk wasp uses its sting to paralyze a tarantula, then drags the tarantula to a specially prepared brooding nest, where a single egg is laid on the spider’s abdomen, and the entrance is covered. When the Tarantula Hawk wasp larva hatches, it creates a small hole in the spider’s abdomen, then enters and feeds voraciously, avoiding vital organs for as long as possible to so that the spider stays alive. After several weeks, the larva pupates. Finally, the wasp becomes an adult and emerges from the spider’s abdomen to continue the life cycle.

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