Thursday, May 17, 2012

Tarantula Hawk

On our hike to the snow-capped peak* of South Mt. Fortuna a few weeks back, we spotted this charming pair - a tarantula and a tarantula hawk. The spider had been envenomed into a twitchy submission and the wasp was dragging it off into the undergrowth. I shot close-ups until the wasp lost its temper and threatened to sting me into submission. The last photo in the bunch shows a pretty ticked-off wasp.

I left the photos much larger than normal. The lighting wasn't optimal, so this isn't up to Tim's standards, but I think they're worth a click or two. Enjoy.

* - Well, to be honest, there wasn't really any snow, but if it had been a lot colder and it had been snowing, we'd have seen snow on the top of the mountain.


tim eisele said...

Cool find! And good job avoiding being stung, it is reputed to be quite painful[1] And it is a very photogenic wasp! It's a little startling to realize that tarantulas are common enough around there that it is worthwhile for a wasp to specialize in hunting them.

I've had bad luck trying to photograph insects with daylight only - it either comes out too shadowed, or washed out, or a bit blurry (because even direct sunlight isn't as bright as a close-in flash). I've gotten to where I leave the flash on for light-fill just on general principles, with the aperture choked down to around f19 or so, no matter how sunny it might be.

[1] Justin Schmidt's description of what it feels like: "Blinding, fierce, shockingly electric. A running hair drier has been dropped into your bubble bath."

Jedi Master Ivyan said...

I love that I can learn about such very different things on this blog: economy, culture, and bugs.

tim eisele said...

Hey, and these pictures could possibly be used to illustrate this story:

“Terry the Tarantula and Wendy the Wasp were frolicking and cavorting together in the Flowery Meadow, (as they were the best of friends in all the Enchanted Forest of Miggly-Wompsly) when, all of a sudden, and with no warning whatsoever, Wendy accidentally stabbed Terry with her stinger, making her very sad for she knew that soon her poison would paralyze her friend and after a while her eggs would hatch inside him, and then her happy wriggling larva would slowly eat him alive, but Terry tried to smile and would have told her not to be sad as this was how the Circle of Life was continued, but he was in too much pain and, as I mentioned before, paralyzed.” (Delano Lopez, Washington, DC. 2001 winner of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest in the “Children’s Story” category)

K T Cat said...

Ivyan, I'm so glad you get something out of this. You're comments are always appreciated.

K T Cat said...

Tim, I thought I could set up a full studio with plenty of ambient lighting, but the wasp nixed the idea. She told me if I wanted to set up a @#^&^@%^)ing studio with @#T&@#er-!&*#@&er lighting, I ought to get ready to get a @#^&*@(#ing stinger in my @$$.

Wollf Howlsatmoon said...

Be VERY glad she didn't hit you. Down in Tombstone, growing up, we would hunt them with our BB guns. A youn'uns version of Bear hunting with a pistol.

Some days you get the bear, and some days it gets you.