Order and Family:
Pompilidae, Spider Wasps
1/2-3/4″ (12-20 mm). Short “waist” (pedicel) between thorax and abdomen. Velvety black. Wings reddish to orange, darker and less transparent at tip and base.
Adult drinks nectar. Larva feeds on tarantulas and trapdoor spiders.
Female stings spider between legs, immobilizing it. The female quickly digs a burial chamber, drags the spider inside, lays an egg, and closes burrow. Wasp larva feeds on spider, eventually killing it.
Dry hillsides and rolling arid plains.
California to Mexico.
Tarantula hawks are primarily tropical, but several large species are found in the Southwest.
WARNING: Female stings, but only if provoked.