11th October 2018 Daniel Roca

Spider wasp and its prey

Picture a pleasant and warm summer evening in a coastal valley. Vineyards cover most of the area. Humid wind coming from the sea has brought some low clouds, but no rain is expected.

Bonelli’s warblers sing from the nearby Stone pine woodlands. A pair of Red-rumped swallows circle around hunting insects. It’s getting late, soon both species of Nightjar will start singing, as well as Little and Scops Owl.

Spider wasp habitat

As we climb the gentle slopes, the walk becomes a bit steep. We stop for a minute to catch our breath. Suddenly, a fast flying insect attempts to “attack” us. But why? We didn’t do anything. Well, right in front of us, a dramatic scene is taking place.

A giant Spider wasp (Cryptoceilus annulatus) is aggressively protecting its prey from what it thinks could be a threat. Our presence has disturbed it, but it is in a hurry. The impressively sized wasp keeps dragging an even bigger Tarantula wolf spider (Lycosa sp.) to its burrow. It’s obviously not an easy task, even for such a large insect. Every now and then, it stops to rest and inspect the surroundings. The spider is not dead, but completely paralyzed. It will serve as food for its larvae.

Spider wasp dragging tarantula

If we get too close, the wasp interrupts its work and flies towards us. We’d rather not get stung by it, so we are very cautious. Here’s a video clip of the scene:


When we go birding, we usually look at the bright side of the natural world. We appreciate the beauty of it. But life is mainly about survival. And when we look closely, the survival game surely reveals itself.

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