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Help ID Huge Mutant Wasp / Tarantula Hawks In Coastal SoCal ???

Discussion in 'Insects, Other Invertebrates & Arthropods' started by DETHCHEEZ, May 7, 2015.

  1. Advertisement
    Trying to ID a big @$$ gnarly looking wasp

    Unfortunately I haven't been able to catch one to take a pic of that I can post

    Have only seen 3
    2 within the last few weeks & 1 today
    Threw a flower pot over the 1 I saw today
    But it got out before I was able to find something to catch it in
    I wasn't even thinking of trying to grabbing it by hand / LOL

    Honestly NOT even coming close to over exaggerating
    They have to be at least if not pushing 3in. long
    Solid black body with bright red wings
    I'm blind as a bat & saw it crawling across the grass from like 20 feet away
    The bright red wings really stick out

    The only thing I can think of is a Tarantula Hawk / Pepsis Wasp???
    But as far as I know they're Not local
    I live in Long Beach / Carson / 90810 area
    For a reference point I live about 10 - 15 minutes inland from the Queen Mary

    I May Be Wrong
    But I've seen Tarantula Hawks before
    They didn't seem to have the blueish purple tint to the body & the wings seemed to be a lot more red then any T Hawk I've seen
    I did get a pretty good look at the 1 I tried catching today
    But again I may be wrong / a bit off on the body coloration ???

    But a T Hawk is best guess I can come up with
    Although as far as I know they're NOT a local Sp. ???

    Are There T Hawks In The Coastal SoCal Area ???
    I can't think of any local Ts or large spiders that they would/could lay their larvae in???

    If I can catch one I'll defiantly post pics
  2. The Snark

    The Snark هرج و مرج مهندس Old Timer

    T Hawks -were- native from Mexico, including Baja Cal, up through Tahoe area and out towards Utah. I've seen them on the coast around Los Osos. Need Smokehound to weigh in here.
  3. Smokehound714

    Smokehound714 Arachnoking Active Member

    There are several species of Pepsis (tarantula hawks) in southern california.

    P mexicana
    P thisbe
    P mildei
    ^ those are just three of several species in one genus

    Calopompilus and hemipepsis are two closely related, but smaller genera.
  4. gottarantulas

    gottarantulas Arachnoknight Old Timer

    It's ironic that this thread present. I literally just took photos of one at the top of the week and as soon as I can figure how to post pics, I am going to post them here.
  5. Blueandbluer

    Blueandbluer Arachnobaron

    Could it be a sphecius sp?

    Click me

    This is the Eastern species but it is my understanding there is also a Pacific variety and one in the Southwest as well. They are predatory on cicadas.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2015
  6. myrmecophile

    myrmecophile Arachnobaron Old Timer

    Pepsis/Hemipepsis are very common in southern California this time of year. The description is dead on.
  7. Ran

    Ran Arachnoknight


    SoCal a couple of days ago. I have been seeing more of these on the coast lately.
  8. "Ran" You Nailed It...
    Thanx for posting the pic
    Been keeping an eye out today in hopes of being able to catch one or at least get a pic of one that I could post
    The red wings really stick out & make them easy to spot
    Thanx to every one who replied
    Appreciate help with trying to ID
    I know it's hard without a pic to go by

    So is it a T Hawk???
  9. Ran

    Ran Arachnoknight

    Definitely a T hawk...this was a pair hunting around my neighborhood. It was amazing to watch as they would be some 60 yards away from one another and could find each other very easily.
  10. Polistes

    Polistes Arachnopeon

    Something about the color of the wings, the early date and the fact the body appears more black than blue-ish makes me suspect that it's hemipepsis instead of pepsis. So yes a T-hawk, probably the species Hemipepsis Ustulata.
    Last edited: May 11, 2015
  11. Smokehound714

    Smokehound714 Arachnoking Active Member

    The original post mentions the wasps were larger, cheez definitely saw some pepsis.
  12. The Snark

    The Snark هرج و مرج مهندس Old Timer

    Somewhat off topic but a memory I cherish. Working at a pack station with an assistant. As usual, we had to put up with a lot of know it all tourists and would be geniuses.
    One family was the extreme limit of this, telling Belle, my wrangler counterpart, everything there was to know about horses, about packing them, about the trails, about the desert... about everything plus. We couldn't tell them anything. They also had everything bigger, better, badder, smarter blah blah back where they came from. They also were up in your face when extolling their virtues. When shoeing, saddling, tacking and getting riders set up on the right horse so you can get them into the high country before midnight, one doesn't have a lot of spare time to listen to endless know it all dialogues.

    Harassed, Belle took a few seconds out to listen to more instructions on how she should do her job when a tarantula hawk cruised past. Flying slow about 6 feet off the ground, clutching a baby T nearly as big as itself. The geniuses were agape and aghast as they watched the not-so-little monster. Belle eyed it and them then laconically said, "Oh. Yeah. We got some pretty big mosquitoes here."
    She ducked into the tack room to emerge a few moments later with a shotgun. She let out a sudden blood freezing scream* at the top of her lungs then fired into the dirt near where the people were standing. Mouths agape and stunned, about 30 people are staring at her wide eyed. She pointed to the fresh corpse just behind the genius family and casually mentioned, "Watch for rattlers around here."

    For some reason, those people tended to avoid her for the rest of the week. Along with keeping a wary eye on the ground and watching for low flying red winged horrors.

    No idea why but there were a lot of T Hawks out that year. That was strange as Ts are rare up in the high desert. I had checked with a doc at the local hospital about how bad T Hawk stings were and how to treat them. An easy going laid back country guy, he replied, "Ever dealt with rattler bites? About the same on the pain scale."

    *Let out a loud yell or scream first so gunfire won't spook the horses.
    Last edited: May 12, 2015
    • Like Like x 2
  13. I didn't notice a blueish or incandescent color / They looked sold black to me
    But I may be wrong on the color

    Yeah they be pretty big
    I threw a 6in. round plastic pot over the one I tried catching / Nearest thing I could find / LOL
    It was at least 2 1/2in. long easy


    I'm a plant freak + grow veggies year round
    So I spend a Lot of time in the garden
    This is the 1st time I've ever seen any in the 16 years I've lived here
  14. pannaking22

    pannaking22 Arachnoemperor Active Member

    I needed that laugh today, Snark. Thank you. I get that sort of thing all the time here in Illinois (though obviously we don't have Pepsis here. A lot of people like to think they know it all when it comes to nature, but put them near something that could be deemed "scary" and their tune changes pretty quick. I've done that with Dolomedes tenebrosus more times than I can count and some poor college freshman came across a wheel bug for the first time last fall. Might have defecated a little bit before screaming and running off. He was bragging at the entomology outreach table I was working at that he had seen all of these crazy "bugs" and that he wasn't scared of anything. And then the wheel bug landed on the table. Priceless.
  15. Polistes

    Polistes Arachnopeon

    While male hemipepsis can be quite small, I've seen females that rival pepsis in terms of size.
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