Heavy rains have forced San Antonio’s ground-dwelling spiders out of their burrows, meaning that Texas’ very own cazadores are out in force.
San Antonio’s KENS5 news station is reporting that the real-world insect Fallout‘s cazadores are based on — native tarantula hawk wasps — are currently swarming neighborhoods looking for spiders. It all sounds pretty terrifying, yes, but these wasps, which can grow to the size of your hand, are actually quite docile. Unless you get them mad.
Tarantula hawk wasps epitomize the duality of nature. They are both beautiful and extremely well-equipped to defend themselves. Entomologist Justin Schmidt of the University of Arizona describes the sting of the wasps as “blinding, fierce, and shockingly electric.” The pain is reportedly second only to the infamous bullet ant, whose sting literally feels like getting shot.
But the real target of the tarantula hawk is right there in its name. The male wasp feeds on nectar, but the female supplements this flowery diet specially for her children. When it’s time to become a momma wasp, the female finds a tarantula and expertly paralyzes it with its excruciating sting. The helpless spider is then dragged to a burrow where the wasp deposits eggs on its body. The eggs eventually hatch, and there’s already a meal waiting.
They sound ferocious, but tarantula hawk wasps aren’t looking to sting people. Texas A&M entomologist Molly Keck says that one would need serious aggravation to use its needle. “You have to want to be stung by them – pick them up or smash them in your hand.” Targeting its leg with a plasma rifle would also probably do the trick.
And though San Antonio is seeing a surge of cazadores, the best advice is to just leave them alone. You wouldn’t want to turn Texas into the Mojave wasteland.