Tarantula-hawk Wasp (Pepsis grossa)

Oct 15, 2022

This photograph features the Tarantula-hawk wasp (Pepsis grossa). It is commonly called a spider-wasp. This wasp displays distinct iridescent blue and bright orange warning
coloration for protection in warding-off predators. This specimen is a female as noted by its circularly curved antennae and is seen foraging for nectar and pollen from milkweed blossoms. Typical for this species of wasp, the overall length is 2 inches(50mm) and a stinger 3/16 inches (7mm) long. The wasp's sting is VERY potent and especially painful for humans. However, the sting is put to practical use to parallelise tarantulas (hence its name) which is then used to feed its larva, while the tarantula is still alive! Plus, this wasp has the distinction of being the state insect of New Mexico.

The opportunity to capture this wasp's likeness occurred by absolute serendipity as it landed on a nearby milkweed blossom while I was busy photographing a Monarch butterfly. The chance to photograph such a unique insect, and a completely new one to me, was not to be passed-up. This image has been posted on the internet web site Exotic Insects and Butterfly Lovers with an audience of better than 21,000 members!

Nikon D5300 camera, Nikkor 200-500mm lens (@ 500mm), mounted on a Gitzo GT3532S CF tripod & Wimberley WH-200 II gimbal head.