The Tarantula Hawk

In August of 2011, my dad and I were on one of our spontaneous, unplanned day drives when we found ourselves in the west desert of Utah following the Pony Express Trail. Stopping to look at a restored building at Simpson Springs, we spotted this big black and orange bug.

Equipped with my Canon DSLR, I was determined to get a good shot. For 5 minutes, we chased this thing before it was finally still enough for me to shoot this photo. Happy with the result, we then left and carried on with our drive.

Later, at home, I decided to look this weird bug up online and learned that it was a “tarantula hawk wasp.” It hunts TARANTULAS, stinging them & injecting a paralyzing toxin before dragging them into an underground den. It then lays its eggs on the tarantula’s abdomen before carrying on to find its next victim. Not long afterwards, the eggs hatch and the larva slowly consume the still-living tarantula while they grow.

Horrifying, right? Well, that’s not all. My dad and I were chasing this thing around trying to get a picture, totally unaware that we were looking at an insect that has one of the MOST PAINFUL STINGS in the WORLD. 😱 Don’t believe me? Want proof? Watch this video by Coyote Peterson, in which he actually, voluntarily gets stung by one.

Warning: this video is NOT for the faint of heart.

Moral of the story, if you see one of these, go the other way.

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