Saturday, September 17, 2005

tarantual-hawk


tarantual-hawk
Originally uploaded by tardigrade.

Pompiliidae, Pepsis sp. is one of the largest wasps in the world and has one of the most powerful stings. I kept one in an aquaria for a few months. She was about 4.5 cm long and was as beautiful as these - though, this photo does not do these animals justice.

As adults, they are nectar feeders but as larvae, they consume a still live but paralyzed spider that was provided for them by their mother. They are very expressive animals in that you can tell their temperament by their body language. When excited, they walk jerkily and tap their wings. When calm but excited, they stretch out their antenna. When angry, they point their antenna towards the offending animal and curl and uncurl them. When totally calm the antenna is curled and slightly drooped.

The wasp that I took care of, at first attempted to attack me by flying at my face. In the morning, I would walk into the kitchen and she would pace back and forth with angry movements. I offered her 'cat food juice' and sugar water. I would open the lid very carefully so I could insert a syringe to squirt some sugar water into a small dish. Eventually, she did not display 'anger' when I entered the kitchen, but excitement as in the photograph. Later, she would take the syringe in her front legs and drink from the tip with her antenna curled and drooping.

These animals can never become 'tame' as we might think of some snakes or turtles, but I found my Pepis to be very smart and aware. She knew when I was coming to feed her.

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