Doo-dee-doo...tra-laa-laa.....Huh? What's that? AW.....Nope-nope-nope-nope-nope...
Spiders. I don't like them. There are very few things that give me the willies, and spiders are one of them. And the bigger the spider, the willier it...um...makes me....uh...feel.
So, you would think that any creature that kills spiders would be my friend, right? Well, mostly. I like bats and frogs and birds and snakes. (mostly). And they all eat spiders for breakfast. And lunch, dinner and snacks...
But there are a few critters that kill spiders that I could live without.
Like, the Tarantula Hawk.
Now, I know what you're thinking; "What does otter have against a hawk? They are majestic birds".
The Tarantula Hawk is severely mislabeled. See, it's not a bird at all. It's a bug. A wasp, to be exact. It's a member of the Spider Wasp family. That is, a whole group of species that sustain themselves with spiders.
The Tarantula Hawk will fight with, what else, a tarantula using it's hooked claws and 1/3 inch stinger to kill the spider. Then use it for food for it's larvae. Yes. You read that right. I said hooked claws. A wasp with claws. They are made for latching onto the tarantula.
You also read correctly when I said 1/3 inch stinger. I can see you measuring that with your fingers and thinking, "that doesn't seem so bad". Except that the typical wasp or bee stinger is 2.5mm long. The Tarantula Hawks is 7mm long. Almost 3 times the length of a normal stinger. It's said to be the second most painful insect sting in the world.
The Tarantula Hawk is the largest of all wasps. And, it has blue-brown wings so other creatures know not to mess with it, because, frankly, it will mess you up! And I do mean mess you up. Justin Schmidt, an entomologist who created the Schmidt Scale of Insect Stings for measuring the pain level of stings, rates is as the second highest sting. It's only beaten by the Bullet Ant.
Dr. Schmidt, speaking from personal experience, describes the sting as:
"…immediate, excruciating pain that simply shuts down one's ability to do anything, except, perhaps, scream. Mental discipline simply does not work in these situations."
He says the the pain lasts for only 3 to 5 minutes in humans, but it's "blinding, fierce, and shockingly electric."
There is one thing I should tell you about this wasp. It doesn't live in the tropics. In fact, it's the state insect of New Mexico. It's been found as far north as Washington state, and as far south as Argentina. So, it can live anywhere.
The one good thing about it, is, it only hates tarantulas. It's docile around humans and will only sting if provoked. So, don't go poking it with a stick and you should be fine. (but, why does a wasp that hunts tarantulas live in Washington state? Unless......*shudder*)
Now, I am breaking from tradition. I am posting a picture of the Tarantula Hawk. Not because I want to freak any of you out. But because I want to show you how big it is. Ok, and to freak you out just a bit.
Like my friend the gorilla said, Nope-nope-nope-nope-nope........