What Is a Tarantula Hawk Wasp?
The tarantula hawk wasp became the state insect of New Mexico in 1989. Elementary school students in Edgewood became inspired when researching other states with official insect symbols. The students selected three candidates and sent ballots to New Mexico schools across the state, who voted the tarantula hawk wasp as the winner.
With a maximum length of approximately two inches, the tarantula hawk wasp is one of the larger varieties of wasps. These wasps can be recognized by their distinctive metallic blue-black body color and blue-black or yellow-orange wings trimmed in black.
Are Tarantula Hawk Wasps a Threat?
The name “tarantula hawk wasp” derives from their behavior of preying on tarantulas the way hawks prey on rodents. When a female wasp is ready to give birth, she uses venom from her one-third-inch long stinger to paralyze a tarantula, laying her eggs on top of it for the larvae to feed.
A sting from a tarantula hawk wasp is considered to be the most painful of any insect. Fortunately, these wasps aren’t aggressive toward humans, but they may attack if caught inside a home and feel threatened.
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