We received this "What is this" picture from our friends Bryan and Katy in Denver. The discovery was made by their beloved baby Darcy. Katy had already made a tentative ID of a Tarantula Hawk when they sent the email out.
|Tarantula- Linda Ellis|
So how do you sting and kill a big hairy venomous spider 5-10 times your size? Very carefully. As you can see in this Youtube video, it is a quick and deadly dance and the spider doesn't go quietly. Even more amazing is the ability of the relatively small wasp to drag its heavy prey across the ground and into a hole.
|Stinger- Jim Moore|
An Arizona entomologist, Justin O. Schmidt has studied the pain of stings with masochistic zeal, deliberately exposing himself to 78 species of hymenoptera. He ranked them on a scale, creating the Schmidt sting pain index. Some stings he described with the zeal of a food critic.
"Commenting on his own experience, Justin Schmidt described the pain as "…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."
"In terms of scale, the wasp's sting is rated near the top of the Schmidt sting pain index, second only to that of the bullet ant, and is described by Schmidt as "blinding, fierce [and] shockingly electric." Because of their extremely large stingers, very few animals are able to eat them; one of the few animals that can is the roadrunner." Wikipedia
|Beloved baby Darcy|
More on tarantula hawks on Wikipedia above and at Bugguide.
More details on Missouri tarantulas at last year's blog.