Pepsis grossa

Physical characteristics: This slender wasp with long, spiny legs measures 0.94 to 2 inches (24 to 51 millimeters) in length. The species is black with mostly blue-green reflections, sometimes with a violet or coppery tinge. The black antennae are orange at the tip. The wings are usually black with blue-violet reflections, but they are sometimes yellowish or orange with dark borders.

Geographic range: Tarantula hawks are found in the southern United States and the West Indies, south through Mexico to north-central Peru, and the Guianas.

Tarantula hawks are found in the southern United States and the West Indies, south through Mexico to north-central Peru, and the Guianas. (Illustration by Barbara Duperron. Reproduced by permission.)

Habitat: This species is often found near water where flowering plants grow.

Diet: Adults drink nectar and are especially attracted to the flowers of milkweeds. The larvae feed on spiders.

Behavior and reproduction: Adult males and females are commonly found on flowers. Females are often seen crawling on the ground in search of large spiders, such as tarantulas, to use as food for their larvae. The female will paralyze a spider with her sting and drag it to suitable shelter, such as a burrow in the ground. She then stuffs the spider into a specially prepared chamber in the burrow. She lays a single egg on the living but paralyzed spider, then covers the entrance to the burrow and leaves. The larva pupates after the spider is eaten.

Tarantula hawks and people: Female tarantula hawks have stings that are very painful, but they do not attack people unless they are threatened.

Conservation status:

threatened.

This species is not considered endangered or

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