Now this will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I honestly believe there is beauty to be found in EVERYTHING nature gives us, if we will only set aside our preconceptions and take the time to look for it.

With that I give you…the Tarantula Hawk.

This fearsome looking insect is a very large wasp, it got its name because it preys on Tarantulas. The life cycle is something from a science fiction film. The wasp finds a tarantula and stings it. The venom does not kill the spider, but it completely paralyzes it. The wasp then drags the spider, which is much larger than itself, back to its burrow and lays a single egg on the spider’s body.

When the egg hatches and the larva emerges, it eats the still living spider to complete its transformation into an adult.

Uh, yeah.

The bright orange wings of the wasp are a warning to birds and other would-be predators that it is not to be messed with. The wasp is not aggressive toward people, but those unlucky enough to have been stung often describe it as the most painful thing they have ever experienced.

In my hike into the hills above Chino this morning I found a patch of flowers where dozens of these wasps were feeding. I had my super telephoto lens with me, so I kept a respectful distance and photographed them in flight…because birds are just too easy!

2 Replies to “Aliens Among Us”

  1. Fantastic! I love photographing insects in flight, or at least attempting to, and you’ve done an amazing job. I remember tarantula hawks from when I was a kid living in Arizona, but I’ve never photographed one. I have had the tarantulas crawling up and down my arms, though. Fun feeling. 🙂

  2. Yeah, it was a pretty amazing find, I have never seen more than one or two in the same area. This flower field had dozens of them flying in and out!

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