Insect-Arachnid Interaction: Spider wasp with a banded argiope

episyronargiope

Spider wasp (Hymenoptera: Pompilidae: Episyron sp.) with a paralyzed banded argiope (Araneae: Araneidae: Argiope trifasciata). Photographed 09/27/2013 near Clayton, Michigan.

Like other orb-weaving spiders, banded argiopes (Araneae: Araneidae: Argiope trifasciata) build big, elaborate webs to ensnare the insects that they feed upon. Some insects, however, turn the tables on these large predators. A number of different wasps hunt spiders like these, including the appropriately-named spider wasps (Hymenoptera: Pompilidae).

episyronargiope2

Spider wasp (Hymenoptera: Pompilidae: Episyron sp.) with a paralyzed banded argiope (Araneae: Araneidae: Argiope trifasciata). Photographed 09/27/2013 near Clayton, Michigan.

Although the adult wasps feed on pollen and nectar from flowers, their young larvae feed on meat. Female wasps dig nests in loose soil like sand, but before laying their eggs they provision their nests with food.

episyronargiope3

Spider wasp (Hymenoptera: Pompilidae: Episyron sp.) with a paralyzed banded argiope (Araneae: Araneidae: Argiope trifasciata). Photographed 09/27/2013 near Clayton, Michigan.

Females in the spider wasp genus shown here (Episyron) specifically collect orb weavers like banded argiopes. A female will fly up to a spider on its web and sting it, quickly paralyzing the spider. The female will then carry the spider back to her nest and lay an egg upon it. When the egg hatches the larva will feed on the immobilized but still-living spider. After such a hearty meal, the wasp larva will pupate before emerging as part of the next generation of adults.

episyronargiope4

Spider wasp (Hymenoptera: Pompilidae: Episyron sp.) with a paralyzed banded argiope (Araneae: Araneidae: Argiope trifasciata). Photographed 09/27/2013 near Clayton, Michigan.

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About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Ecology, Entomology, Invertebrate Zoology, Organism Interactions and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Insect-Arachnid Interaction: Spider wasp with a banded argiope

  1. Mike Powell says:

    This is a creepy, but fascinating view into the natural cycle of life. Still, it’s enough to give me nightmares (and could easily be the basis for a horror movie.)

    Like

  2. Forest So Green says:

    I like your header photo of Isle Royale 🙂

    Like

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