16Oct10-Tarantula hawk Wasp.
Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8
Got out to the Estuary today for a lovely morning nature walk. Saw lots of critters, but this was the prize-- a big bad tarantula hawk. I knew these guys were not to be messed with, but I was transfixed and spent a good 20 minutes observing him. This specimen was easily 4 inches long. The following on this species is from DesertUSA.com:
Tarantula hawk stings are considered to be the most painful of any North American insect. Christopher Starr wrote an article entitled, "A Pain Scale for Bee, Wasp and Ant Stings." On a scale of one to four, Pepsis formosa was one of only two insects to rate a four. This compares with a one for a Solenopsis xyloni (desert fire ant), two for a Apis mellifera (honey bee) and three for a Dasymutilla klugii (velvet ant).
One researcher described the tarantula hawk’s sting this way: "To me, the pain is like an electric wand that hits you, inducing an 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. The pain for me lasted only about three minutes, during which time the sting area was insensitive to touch, i.e., a pencil point poked near the sting resulted only in a dull deep pressure pain."