One Of Nine
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There are about nine species of Pepsis wasp that inhabit the Tucson area. These big solitary wasps are similar in appearance and habits. All of them hunt other invertebrates to serve as food for their offspring. Some of them specialize in hunting tarantulas and, as a result, the entire group of related species has earned the sobriquet of “Tarantula Hawks.”
I was very fortunate the other day to photograph this individual. I’m pretty sure that she’s a female (males have much longer antennae than females). Her orange-tipped antennae are unique: I’d never photographed this species previously.
She is huge, measuring nearly two inches in length. She may not be the largest of all Pepsis wasps, but she comes close. In these photos she is feeding on the nectar of a milkweed flower. Adult Pepsis wasps survive on plant nectar even though they hunt other creatures as food for their young.
I think that these wasps, with their dark turquoise colored and highly polished bodies and their burnt orange wings and antennae tips, are extraordinarily beautiful.
Images made with a Canon 5DS-R, 180 f3.5L Macro Lens assisted by Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite, M setting, ISO 200, f13 @ 1/160.