Female Pompilid wasps are spider hunters. After a suitable species of spider is found, it is stung, and it soon becomes largely immobile. If it has not already done so, the wasp will make a burrow in the sand and then drag the stunned spider to the nest and lay an egg on it. When the larva hatches it will feed on the still-alive spider.
Every year I come across a few spider-hunting wasps, but I had yet to see a paralyzed spider actually being pulled into the nest. This time it seemed a sure thing: I first spotted the wasp at the nest entrance and then saw it fly over to the nearby arachnid victim to begin pulling it along. I lay down on my belly and began recording the behaviour. Watch the video below to see what happened…
Nature does have its odd moments.
The ant that seems to dominate the wasp in this video is Camponotus novaeboracensis (Fitch, 1855), a carpenter ant. Eventually, the wasp gave up and did not return to recapture the spider, and I left the scene with the ant still spinning its wheels in the sand.
Thanks to James C. Trager for the ant ID.
(This is a re-post from my now closed blog, Macro Photography in Nature. The photo was taken on 13 June 2016 at the Halfmoon Lake Natural Area, with a Canon 70D DSLR camera mounted with a MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro Photo Lens. It was exposed with a single, diffused Canon Speedlight 270EX II flash. The video was taken with Panasonic HC-V750 with Raynox 250 macro attachment)
That’s a prize-winning bit of videography – the music is so apt as well.
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Yes, I had to use some music to go along with it because Attenborough declined my invitation to narrate it. 🙂