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New Mexico State Insect

Tarantula Hawk Wasp:

The Tarantula Hawk Wasp was adopted as the state insect by the 39th Legislature in 1989.

This fairly large family contains many species of common wasps that build nests in the ground. Pepsis formosa is the species selected by the state. The majority of spider wasps are black with dark wings; many are colored with a metallic blue, orange, red or white. The adult Pepsis Formosa is metallic blue with reddish antennae and fiery red wing; the antennae of the male are straight in contrast to the curved antennae of the females.

The Pepsis formosa are long-legged, very active, and often seen on flowers or running rapidly on the ground or low plants. They are some of the largest and showiest species, provisioning their nests with mygalomorph spiders - the so-called tarantulas. The female approaches the tarantula slowly, stinging its larger prey. The paralyzed spider is dragged to a previously prepared burrow where it is implanted with an egg, serving as food for the developing larva.

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Courtesy of State of New Mexico

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