Facts About Spider Wasps
Spider wasps are among the easiest to identify, due mostly to their vastly different appearance when compared to other wasps. There are also a number of subspecies of this wasp located in South America, with the largest being the matacaballos, or “horse killers.”
Spider Wasp Stings
While their primary victims are spiders, these moderate sized wasps, also known as “tarantula hawks”, have been known to take on tarantulas that are many times larger than them. The sting of some spider wasp species has been indexed as one of the strongest and most painful of insect stings. Luckily, spider wasps are not aggressive toward people.
Habitat & Behavior
The nest of the spider wasp is made from dry materials found in your yard. It is constructed below the surface as a burrow, often using materials like twigs or dried wood to create divides for each single egg cell because they are underground nests, and the majority of the lifecycle of this insect is spent developing (or hunting spiders for the next wave of offspring) they can be very difficult to notice. This is may be a positive aspect, as they are unlikely to make nests inside your home.
Unlike the majority of wasps that use other insects as hosts for their larvae, the spider wasp earned its name by feeding on arachnids. The wasp will search out and attack a spider, paralyzing them with their stinger. The frozen prey is then used as a host for a single egg planted inside the spider’s abdomen. While the egg develops and hatches, it feeds off of the spider, then creates a cocoon around the shell of the body until it fully matures.
Once developed however, these wasps revert to the same diet as most other wasps, preferring to search out nectar rather than any more eight legged victims.
This wasp is not social by nature, and the queen lives alone with her offspring. Similar to other non-social variations of wasps, these insects will most often be found in burrows underground.
Some variations have been known to take on the most dangerous spiders known to man, stinging them multiple times to ensure paralysis, then dragging them to their burrow. Many of these subspecies will create their burrow initially, then go on the hunt for spiders. Others will hunt first, then drag the spider to its desired nest location and dig while it lies there unmoving.
This may be an important difference to note, as the variations that hunt first then dig may be easier to spot. Always approach nests with caution, and avoid contact with these wasps; they will defend their larvae and burrow.
Types of Spider Wasps
Spider Wasp Identification
The body of this wasp is usually all black, although some species have a stripe of orange on their abdomen. The wings set them apart greatly from other species of wasps, and are a deep orange or amber color. Much like many other species of wasps, the spider wasp has a narrower waist, a rather large stinger, and tall hind legs. It’s front legs, while not ridged like the mud dauber, are still used for digging in dry soil.
Spider Wasps In The Yard
Spider wasps may leave unsightly holes in your lawn when they dig burrows to hide their eggs, but are actually beneficial and can help control spider populations. If you are having a problem with these wasps it means you probably have a spider problem too! Spider wasps can be discouraged from nesting in your yard by treating the spider population in your lawn.
Frequently Asked Questions About Tarantula Hawks
What is the difference between spider wasps and bees?
Spider wasps are slender with long, spiny legs compared to the robust bodies of bees who have broader legs used for carrying pollen. Spider wasp bodies appear shiny and almost oily, while bees look hairy.
What is the difference between spider wasps and hornets?
Spider wasps is more smaller and thinner than hornets. Hornets, subspecies of wasps, tend to be larger and rounder than other wasps.
Are spider wasps aggressive?
Although these wasps can sting, they are very mellow and will only attack if extremely provoked.
What are the Benefits of Professional Spider Wasp Pest Control?
A pest management professional has the education, equipment and skills necessary to effectively address a spider wasp problem. Finding and treating the spider wasp nest can be challenging, especially if the main nest is hidden somewhere outside. A pest management professional provides their expertise to identify the pest problem and determine the best possible solution to resolve the spider wasp infestation.