Nature’s drama: Spider as wasp’s ‘baby food’

Here's a mother who hunts for baby food even before she has given birth. Read the exciting account of what happens when the Spider or Pompilid Wasp, meets a spider, a Tarantula no less.

Last month, I’d discussed spiders. I then thought about the creatures that use them as prey, and this reminded me of the Wasp-and-Spider drama that I witnessed.

About four years ago, I made this post about the Spider or Pompilid Wasp organising food for her yet unborn children, by stunning and burying a Yellow-thighed Tarantula or the Indian Ornamental Spider

Well, her story repeated itself while we were at the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary. This Spider Wasp had already stunned the Tarantula by the time we saw it.

Unhappy with the first site she had chosen, she dug it out of the ground, and dragged the paralysed spider at least several yards, as we watched.

Pompilid wasps prepare very carefully for their offspring. They are solitary hunters.

Wasps like this use a single spider as a host for feeding their larvae. For some reason, each time I’ve seen this Pompilid wasp, it’s been a Tarantula that has been stunned.

The wasp paralyses the spider with a venomous stinger. Once paralysed, the spider is dragged to a place where a nest will be built – or has already been readied..

A single egg is laid on the abdomen of the spider, and the nest or burrow is closed. (Here you can see the yellow “thighs” of the Tarantula clearly).

The size of the host can influence whether the wasp’s egg that will develop as a male or a female; larger prey yield the (larger) females. The wasp then spreads soil around, leaving the nest site inconspicuous.

When the wasp larva hatches, it begins to feed on the still-living spider. After consuming the edible parts of the spider, the larva spins a silk cocoon and pupates, usually emerging as an adult the next summer. Some wasps lay the egg on a still-active spider. In time, the spider will die, and the mature wasp larva will then pupate. Here is the mother wasp, dragging the paralysed Tarantula along (you can see its legs faintly moving)… I’ve zoomed out at the end to show how far away she actually is.

An amazing way the wasp has, of providing for children that she may never even see. We can often see this wasp right in the center of our large city, and in our parks and gardens, too! Sometimes, one can get all the excitement of nature trail from just looking at the ground… there is no need to wait for the big cats or elephants! 

Related Articles

Website architecture
What’s crawly need not be creepy
Sometimes Harvestmen are not farmers

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Similar Story

Bengaluru’s street vendors are the first to be impacted by climate change: Lekha Adavi

Lekha Adavi, member of AICTU, says the nature of street vending has changed in the city due to the impact of climate change.

(This is part 1 of the interview with Lekha Adavi on the impact of climate change on Bengaluru's street vendors) On May 1st, while the world celebrated Labour Day, Bengaluru recorded its highest temperature in 40 years. With temperatures continually on the rise, one of the most affected groups are street and peripatetic vendors (vendors who operate on foot or with push carts). In this interview, Lekha Adavi, member of the All India Centre of Trade Unions (AICTU), talks about the effect of climate change on street vendors. Excerpts: Lekha Adavi, member of the All India Centre of Trade Unions…

Similar Story

Smothered by smog: Struggle of vegetable vendors in Delhi’s Keshopur Mandi

Delhi's air pollution affects every resident, but for the urban poor, like vegetable vendors of Keshopur Mandi, it is much worse.

Halfway through our interview, vegetable vendor Rekha asked me point blank, “Isse kya hoga,” and at that moment, I could not think of an answer. She was right and had every reason to be hopeless. Much has been written about air pollution and much energy has been spent on expert committees and political debates and yet nothing has changed.  “Hum toh garib log hai, hum kisko jakar bole, hamari sunvai nahin hoti” (We are poor people, to whom do we go, nobody listens to us),” says Rekha Devi, who sells vegetables in the Keshopur Mandi. Keshopur is a large retail…