The tarantula hawk is one of the largest parasitoid wasps, using its sting to paralyze its tarantula prey before dragging it to a brood nest as living food. A single egg is laid on the spider, hatching to a larva which eats the still-living host. They are found on all continents except Antarctica.

Tarantula hawk wasps are relatively docile and rarely sting humans without provocation. However, the sting is among the most painful of all insects’, though the intense pain only lasts about five minutes. In terms of scale, the wasp’s sting is rated near the top of the Schmidt sting pain index, second only to that of the bullet ant, and is described by Schmidt as “blinding, fierce, and shockingly electric”.


I never really knew what a katydid was (as opposed to a grasshopper) until the other night. An easy-to-spot difference is the length of the antennae. Also, katydids are primarily nocturnal and grasshoppers are diurnal.

Insects in the family Tettigoniidae are commonly called katydids (especially in North America). More than 8,000 species are known. Many species exhibit mimicry and camouflage, commonly with shapes and colours similar to leaves.

The specimen we sketched is in the Neoconocephalus genus. Gotta love that cone head!

pseudomethoca simillima

Justin Orvel Schmidt is an American entomologist, author of The Sting of the Wild, and creator of the Schmidt sting pain index. According to him, the sting of a velvet ant is a 3 out of 4, equivalent to having boiling oil poured all over your hand.

Just another fun fact shared by the irrepressible Trisha Nicols on Insectopia.