Spider Hunting Wasp

Posted on Fri September 22, 2017.

As a guide in training, students get taught many interesting facts about the local areas fauna and flora. One of the first things I remember learning about was the Spider Hunting Wasp, a large black wasp that noisily flies around the bush in search of a Baboon Spider with the intention of paralyzing it with its venomous sting. Once this has been achieved, the wasp buries the spider underground in a chamber and lays a single egg on the abdomen of the spider after which it closes and conceals the chamber. The larvae hatches ten days later and eats the edible parts of the paralyzed but very much alive spider. Having spent many years in the bush I have seen a significant number of spider hunting wasps busily going about their business and similarly lots of baboon spiders but never have I seen them together, until recently.

Around a week ago whilst enjoying sundowners with a group of tourists I came across a baboon spider hole close to the vehicle. I eagerly grabbed a piece of grass with which to try and lure the spider out of the hole for our guests to see. Unfortunately there was no one home, but close by I heard a rustle in the bushes. I turned and about a meter away we came across this very large wasp dragging a baboon spider towards a termite mound

The spider was obviously paralyzed as no movement could be detected. With great effort and determination the wasp eventually managed to drag the spider to a hole in the termite mound and disappeared out of sight.

Ten days has almost passed and I am sure this unfortunate spider is now being devoured by a spider hunting wasp larvae. Once devoured the larvae will then spin a cocoon where it will wait for the correct climatic conditions before pupating into a fully-grown spider hunting wasp.

Although one must spare a thought for the poor baboon spider who met a very unfortunate death, I am always amazed by how every creature, both big and small, has a niche survival strategy which unfortunately does not always prevail as was the case with this baboon spider.  A truly memorable experience to actually watch something, which I have often heard about, play out in real life.