Predator vs. Prey: Tarantula Hawk vs. Texas Brown Tarantual

By | October 1, 2012
From Xplor: October/November 2012

The struggle to survive isn't always a fair fight. Here's what separates nature's winners from its losers.

Lethal Legs

Tarantula hawks use hooked spines on their long legs to grapple with spiders and drag victims back to their nest.

Beefy Body

A tarantula hawk’s body is about the size of your dad’s thumb. They’re a bit smaller than a tarantula—but not much.


Tarantulas sling arrow-sharp hairs off their bellies at attackers. The barbed bristles pepper a predator’s skin and eyes causing pain and blindness.

Stun Gun Bun

A tarantula hawk’s business end is tipped with a stinger as long as your pinkie nail. One well-placed thrust delivers a searing sting that paralyzes a spider in seconds.

Venom Daggers

Tarantulas stab their hollow, half-inch-long fangs into predators or prey. Then they pump in venom to liquify the punctured creature’s insides.

And the winner is...

Tarantula hawks are a spider’s worst nightmare. After besting a tarantula, the wasp lays an egg on the spider. Once hatched, the baby wasp burrows inside and feeds on the paralyzed—but still living—spider for a month.

And More...

This Issue's Staff

David Besenger
Les Fortenberry
Karen Hudson
Regina Knauer
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
Tim Smith
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White