Not exclusive to the Mojave but very prevalent here and in the Sonoran Desert.
It’s a wasp that mainly eats nectar and fruit juice. They’re very docile with yet black bodies and bright orange wings.
They spend the majority of their life eating sugary fluids and are pretty easy going. There aren’t too many animals that prey on them, their orange wings are though to serve as a warning to ward off birds from eating them like the Monarch Butterfly.
However when it’s time to reproduce the male inseminates the female then the female finds a Tarantula and stabs them with her stinger. The venom of the Tarantula Hawk Wasp is the second most painful venom in the animal kingdom just under the Bullet Ant. The venom overloads the Tarantula’s nervous system and puts it in a permanent coma. She digs a burrow or finds a burrow, drags her newly comatose Tarantula into it. Injects them with her eggs and seals it up then flies off. Few weeks later the larva eat their way out from the inside and the Tarantula is alive until the end. They then become wasps and fly off to repeat the cycle of eating then killing for reproduction.
They can get pretty large but generally are only half this size. This is one of the larger specimens collected.
Coyote Peterson got stung by one and captured it on youtube.
I’ve also wanted to experience this for about a decade just to see how bad it is. The effect of the venom really only lasts about ten minutes at the most but it pretty much removes your capability to do anything except scream.
Quick watercolor sketch of the sharp-shinned hawk I found today.
I’m an impatient watercolorist and I work wet-on-wet more often than is probably good, but this time I had a lot of fun playing around with the technique and racing against the paint. I doodled this outdoors, so things were drying a lot quicker that I’m used to.