How Painful is a Tarantula Hawk Sting – How to Get Rid of Them?

how painful is tarantula hawk sting

If you love your garden, you are probably familiar with many insects and pests that come near.

However, it can be difficult to tell which species wants to harm your hard work, especially when there are so many of them.

One such creepy-crawly is the tarantula hawk.

Although tarantula hawk wasps rarely sting, it is said to be the most painful of all insects.

The instantaneous, debilitating, and most electrifying intense pain that’s felt can make you scream like hell.

However, the good thing is that the pain from tarantula hawk wasps sting is not known to last for more than five minutes.

Knowing more about these creatures can help identify them better in your garden and protect you.

So, let’s dive into…

What are Tarantula Hawks?

Tarantula hawks come from the family of spider wasps or spider-hunting wasps (Pompilidae).

You may be shocked to find that these spider wasps have a habit of paralyzing spiders and tarantulas.

Once they do this, they drag the tarantula to the nearest underground hole or their burrow.

After that, the female starts laying one egg on the prey.

The egg takes at least three to four days to hatch.

As the larva starts growing, it consumes its host.

At first, it feeds on the non-essential organs, and then it is ready to pupate after three weeks.

The pupae stage lasts anywhere from two weeks to twenty days before the adult wasp comes out.

This is where the name of the tarantula hawk wasp emerges from. They are wasps, not spiders.

Where Can Tarantula Hawks Be Found?

You can find these species all around the world.

Particularly, they are known for habituating in deserts, rainforests, grasslands, and many other places where tarantulas exist.

Currently, between two to three hundred species of this wasp exist.

Most of these species are either black or blue.

However, their wings have a different color as they are more brown or rusty.

The brighter the color of the wing, the more powerful the sting will be.

The wasps are incredibly large, but they are only two inches long.

The United States is filled with these species.

If you go towards the Southwest, you will find over fifteen species of the tarantula hawk wasp.

Over there, you will find that the species’ bodies will be metallic blue or black paired with rust or black wings.

You will be able to spot this pattern of the body and the wings from afar, and it is also known as aposematic coloration.

The pattern and coloration are there so that predators can be warned the female wasp is nearby.

The male and female of the tarantula hawk wasp are also different.

Female wasps have a stinger. Males don’t.

Females also have a curved antenna, while males have a straight antenna.

Don’t forget that this wasp has a reputation for delivering one of the most painful stings you will encounter.

How Painful Is the Sting of a Tarantula Hawk?

I am not exaggerating when I tell you that the sting is one of the most painful in the world.

However, the good thing is that the pain will only be temporary as it will last for a few minutes before it dissipates.

Currently, only a few people have been stung by this creature.

These few people have reported that the pain is bad & unbearable, but it doesn’t last for more than a few minutes.

However, the tarantula hawk is not completely safe in the animal kingdom.

Roadrunners love to prey on them.

Many animals try to stay away from the tarantula hawk because their sting is harmful to animals.

Human victims of the tarantula hawk wasp sting have reported that they are not in control after the sting.

It is so painful that they can only scream to release the pain.

Don’t worry, though.

There is a highly unlikely chance that you will ever be the victim of a tarantula hawk sting.

Of course, it is always good to take precautions if you ever come near these creatures.

How Poisonous Is the Venom?

The venom of the tarantula hawk is poisonous.

However, it is not so intense that it can cause death to human victims.

We will only have to deal with the painful sting, but after a few minutes, that will be gone too.

There will be no more consequences, and you will not have to get the area treated.

That is because the venom is only harmful to their prey, i.e., the tarantulas.

To humans, it only causes temporary pain.

What to Do If You Ever Get Stung?

It is highly unlikely that a tarantula hawk will ever sting you.

However, it is always good to be prepared to know what to do if it ever happens.

If you ever come in contact with this wasp and they sting you, here is what you should do:

  • Use Benadryl or topical cortisone to decrease the swelling after the sting
  • Apply ice cubes or an ice pack. It will reduce the pain and also aid in decreasing the swelling
  • Immediately after the sting, wash the area with a bar of antibacterial soap and water.
  • Doing so will reduce the chances of contracting an infection

Prevention is always much better than treatment.

That is why if a tarantula hawk stings you, take these steps to prevent pain and swell from getting worse.

Ways You Can Get Rid of Tarantula Hawk Wasps?

Tarantula hawk wasps have eight eyes but they are not able to see well.

A tarantula hawk wasp will only attack you if you come too close to them, and they want to protect themselves.

That is why having these wasps around your garden, farm, or home is not good.

If you ever see them, you must develop a plan to eliminate them.

Here are a few ways you can prevent yourself from getting stung or getting rid of the tarantula altogether:

1. Always Protect Yourself with the Right Clothing

You will never see beekeepers in normal clothing while doing their work.

They cover themselves from head to toe so they don’t get stung, and you should do this too.

Always have proper clothing on for your protection.

These wasps retreat at night, and they are always active during the day.

So, if you plan on getting rid of them, do it at night when they are in their nest.

Trying to kill them during the day will not be a successful attempt.

Wear gloves, boots, a cap, a muffler, and a shield to cover your face.

After that, gather your tools and find their nest during the day.

Once you have located the nest, you must wait for them to retreat to capture them at night.

2. Spray and Dust the Hanging Nest

There are many kinds of nests that the tarantula hawk might have.

However, your approach to capturing them should be different if you see a hanging nest.

You will have to spray the hanging nest with resmethrin during the night.

After that, you should dust the resmethrin with some insecticide dust.

Make sure that you cover all the entrances of the nest with steel wool.

But don’t forget to put insecticide dust on the wool.

Once this is done, you will have to wait for a few days till all the wasps are killed.

That is because some wasps may come later, so you will have to wait for them.

Once all of them are killed, you need to safely put the nest away from your home, farm, or garden.

3. Make Use of Insecticide Dust

Keep some insecticide dust on the entrance of the nest.

However, this should only be done for nests that are made on the ground.

Once you have sprinkled the dust, cover the entrance with soil so the tarantula hawk can’t get away from the nest.

Wait for a day or two so all the wasps inside the nest can die.

Remember that some of these wasps will dig another nest from under the ground and leave the first one.

If this happens, you can do something else to eliminate the wasps.

Pour some fuel on the entrance and cover with a damp towel.

That will allow the fumes of the fuel to stay inside.

Leave it like that for a day or two, so the wasps can die, and you can get rid of the nest away from your home.

4. Trap the Tarantula Wasps

Last but not least, you can create traps at home to get rid of the tarantula hawk.

Cut the top part of a liter bottle.

Turn it vertically, and keep the bottle inside the cutout part so it looks like a funnel.

After that, fill the bottle’s opening with a citrus-flavored soda and drops of dish soap.

Keep this concoction near the wasps’ nests, and they will be drawn towards it because of the sugar.

Once they come near, they will die in the mixture, and you can remove the bottle the next day to get rid of the wasps.

Final Words

That is everything you need to know about the tarantula hawk wasp.

They are dangerous, but you can quickly get rid of them or wear protective clothing to avoid being stung by them.

Usually, they don’t mean any harm, but it is never a good idea to have them nearby, so follow our guide, and you will be good.

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