A horrified onlooker has shared the creepy moment a wasp dragged a paralysed tarantula across the floor of her yard.
Donna and Mark Pantuso were outside enjoying their evening in Roswell, New Mexico, earlier this month when they spotted the disturbing scene unfold in front of them.
What Donna caught on film was a ‘tarantuala hawk’ – a type of wasp known for hunting tarantulas – as it dragged an apparently dead tarantula across the floor. Though the spider looks dead, according to experts it is only paralysed, and will be used as a cocoon for the wasp’s offspring.
Check it out:
Teacher Marita De La Pena originally shared the video on YouTube, writing:
Tarantula hawks are some of the largest wasps in North America at around two inches, with a stinger up to one 1/3 inches long.
These wasps are nectivores, however their offspring feed in a more macabre fashion.
When a female wasp is ready to lay her eggs, she starts hunting big spiders, which she will inject with her paralysing venom.
By the way, I hope you’ve already eaten because the next bit is particularly grim
[The female wasp] then drags the paralysed tarantula back to her burrow and lay one egg in the spider’s abdomen.
The tarantula lives in this horrifying state for several weeks until the little grub hatches and develops into a feeding stage.
The larva will then start feeding on its host until its ultimate moult, at which point it erupts through the spider’s abdomen violently ending the life of the tarantula.
My reaction to this scene of the female wasp dragging the tarantula was one of awe and horror, because I knew that the tarantula had not been slain but still had a frightening and excruciatingly painful experience ahead.
According to Dr Gavin Broad from the Natural History Museum, the tarantula hawk’s sting is one of the most painful on the planet.
The tarantula hawk is actually a species of spider wasp (not as cool a name, but definitely creepier). They grow to around 11cm in length, and though they’re smaller than the tarantulas they hunt, it’s never really a competition between the two.
As Dr Broad says: ‘The wasps always win. I don’t think anyone has ever seen a tarantula kill the wasp. The spiders will usually try to flee or avoid them at all costs.’
It’s easy to see why.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.