SPIDER HUNTER

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I’ve spent most of this week tucked up on the sofa with a cold, so sadly haven’t been up to much exploring. A sunday afternoon binging on Modern Family however gave me the time to delve into the archives and share these pictures (and video!) of what is surely the most badass of all insects, a spider hunting wasp. Please excuse the focus and shake- I recorded it sitting on a plastic deck chair with the camera balanced on my knees- not the most stable of set ups.

I naively thought we wouldn’t get to see any spider hunters in action during my field stint. It seemed like catching that moment when the spider was subdued and carried away to a burrow (or in this case, a mud pot) would be too difficult, but the jungle was so full of the things we saw it happen at least once a week. On two occasions I even caught a glimpse of a tarantula hawk, in all its terrifying largeness and metallic beauty.

Unlike the more famous Pepsis wasps, this one was black and yellow and had a ridiculously long and thin abdomen. She could find and bring back spiders with scary efficiency, and in addition was an accomplished potter. Over a couple of days she would daub out an incredible multi-chambered pot, where the unfortunate victims would be stashed, I assume as a food source for her larvae. Like the vast majority of things I saw in the Amazon I don’t know what species she was, or even what the common name is (suggestions welcome!). But she made a habit of coming into our office on sunny days, and while we’d be writing up data she would be busy collecting mud, or daubing, or off catching spiders to stash away in the large structure she had attached to our internet cupboard. One of the small joys of jungle living.

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