This tarantula hunting wasp was spotted crossing the gardens at the Otorongo expeditions jungle lodge. We followed it for quite some time until we lost it in the brush pile.
This particular species of wasp is not going to eat the spider. The wasp drags the spider into the dark recesses where the spider will remain alive but paralyzed by the toxic sting from the wasp.
Once the tarantula is in the depths of the burrow, the wasp will lay an egg on top of the spiders abdomen. The egg will hatch and the larvae will bury itself inside the tarantula to feed. The larvae resists feeding on vital organs as to prolong the freshness of its host. After a few weeks, the larvae starts its metamorphous into an adult tarantula hunting wasp. Watch out tarantulas!
It is interesting that two top predators can battle it out and one will normally always win. The wasp is much more agile than the tarantula. It can sting quick and maneuver faster than the spider can think. Once the venom from the wasp takes effect, it is all over for the spider. The double insult is that the wasp may use the tarantulas own burrow to incubate its young.
There are many species of spider hunting wasps that use the same techniques all through the world. It would be astounding to know how this first developed, why only spiders as hosts? How do the larvae know which organs are vital and what to feed on?
These questions and much more remain to be answered.
All this and more can be observed live at the Otorongo expeditions jungle lodge