Tarantula Hawk

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Detailed Description

Tarantula hawk wasps sting and paralyze tarantulas to feed their young. USGS Ecologist Todd Esque captured this video of a tarantula hawk wasp dragging a tarantula through the desert in Mexico. 


Date Taken:

Length: 00:02:09

Location Taken: BCN, MX


Todd Esque: My name is Todd Esque and I'm a research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. I was on a field expedition down in Mexico over in Baja and one evening at the end of the field day I had the great opportunity to capture on my cell phone I captured video of a tarantula hawk wasp finding a place to hide its prey. Basically, the tarantula hawk flies around the desert looking for tarantulas in the fall when they come out to do their own mating and when they find an adult tarantula they apprehend them by stinging them and paralyzing them.  

I was walking on the desert floor in a flat area and I saw this very large tarantula hawk wasp. It was walking around haphazardly at my feet they have brilliant orange wings. And usually they fly away if you get that close to them, but instead it walked right over to this adult tarantula and started dragging it across the desert floor, underneath sticks and shrubs.  It went a couple of meters. And then it dropped the tarantula and started walking around like when I had first seen it.  And it walked several meters away to where there was a rodent burrow, which I didn't expect at all. And it checked out the rodent burrow really carefully and then it hurried back to the tarantula and started dragging it in that direction.  It made a couple of breaks like that and eventually it dragged it right down into the burrow of the rodents and that's the last I saw of it.   

So, the adult tarantula hawk lays eggs on this great big spider and the young then hatch and feed on this paralyzed spider wherever it's hidden.  

What was really exciting to me about this was to get to see something that I've thought about my whole life which is this epic scene of a tarantula hawk fighting with a tarantula so that it could feed its young. This is something I've thought about ever since I'd seen pictures of it on Walt Disney and I never dreamed that I'd actually get to get a film of it myself out in the desert in an expedition.