sonoran desert,

Tarantula Hawk Wasp

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. 

Few sights evoke the American West more than the saguaro cactus, found only in the Sonoran Desert. Saguaro National Park, close to the urban center of Tucson, Arizona, protects these majestic cacti. At the park, you can hike through fantastic desert scenery year-round. #Sunset photo courtesy of David Olsen.

“With language we can ask, as can no other living beings, those questions about who we are and why we are here. And this highly developed intellect means, surely, that we have a responsibility toward the other life-forms of our planet whose continued existence is threatened by the thoughtless behavior of our own human species — quite regardless of whether or not we believe in God. Indeed, those who acknowledge no God, but are convinced that we are in this world as an evolutionary accident, may be more active in environmental responsibility — for if there is no God, then, obviously, it is entirely up to us to put things right.”
—Jane Goodall

flickr

Looking Upward to the Tops of a Crested and Other Saguaro Cactus by Mark Stevens
Via Flickr:
Captured while walking along the Garwood Trail in the Mountain District of Saguaro National Park.