We Have a ‘Where in the Conejo’ Winner: Wendy Zimmerman!

Published by Anne Russell on

The August 1 Where in the Conejo Contest photo was of a Milde’s tarantula hawk. Of the correct entrants (which was most everyone!), Wendy was selected at random as the winner of a $25 gift certificate. Congratulations Wendy and thanks to all who entered the contest!

Milde’s tarantula hawk (Pepsis mildei) has a gruesome, but fascinating, life cycle. These large insects (up to 1.75 inches in length) are part of the spider wasp family, all of which prey on various types of spiders.

Only the female Milde’s tarantula hawk hunts. At dusk, she will seek out a tarantula in its burrow and lure it out, stinging it repeatedly until it is paralyzed, but alive. She then drags it into the burrow, lays a single egg on its body, and seals the crypt. When the larva hatches, it feeds on the paralyzed tarantula until the tarantula hawk grows to its adult form and size. The female’s antennae are curled, while the male’s are straight.

There are 15 tarantula hawk species in the arid southwestern U.S., including the larger Mexican tarantula hawk. While all tarantula hawks are known for delivering extremely painful stings, they seldom harm humans unless bothered.

They are most active on warm summer days, feeding on nectar and pollen from native plants like milkweed (a special favorite) and mule fat. A good place to spot them is at the Conejo Valley Botanic Garden.

This easy 3.3 mile hike will take you around meadows where you may see milkweed blooming in summer and tarantula hawks visiting.


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