Tarantula hawk

Tarantula hawks are both beautiful and gruesome. Their black bodies have a mesmerizing blue iridescence visible in bright sunlight, yet their curled antennae and orange wings make them seem somewhat cartoonish. Make no mistake, these wasps, while docile, have a sting that is described as “blinding, fierce [and] shockingly electric.” Their mode of reproducing rather ghoulish as well, with larvae eating its live tarantula host from the inside out until it emerges as an adult.

Tarantula Hawk wasp.
BOTTOMS UP — Tarantula hawk wasp worked hard to get every drop of nectar from this snakeroot plant.

Underworld

Didn’t see much going on in Suburban Ferndale yesterday, but those days really prompt one to look deeper. Much of Saturday’s photo stroll was spent in the dirt, peering at the world from below.

HELMET FLOWERS — The beauty of these blue helmet flowers contrasts against the white sky.
BUG VASES — These tiny terracotta vases may be last year’s stinkbug egg cases.
TALL AND STRAIGHT — as the trees behind it. This beautifully symmetrical mushroom had a nearly perfectly round orange cap. The fungus was found  on the grounds of the C.A. Vines Arkansas 4-H Center.
DARK SIDE — Of course, death is part of nature too. Finding the remains of this tarantula was particularly sad. We become fond of these fuzzy arachnids when they appear.

Tarantula!

Fall is mating season for tarantulas and that’s when males tend to roam looking for a mate. Tarantula sightings have been thin this year, but while doing some yard work today, we spotted a big one zig-zagging around the driveway.  During the late summer, we’d noticed a few more burrows and speculated that they might be tarantula homes.  We’re glad to see them. According to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, tarantulas have only been in the Natural State for 8,000 years.  They seem to have adapted quite nicely since then.

Been a very spiderific Sunday!

WANDERING -- A big tarantula -- maybe 5-6 inches across -- wanders the driveway on Sunday afternoon. His behind is front and center in this shot.
SLANTING SHADOWS -- Tarantula casts a long shadow in the November afternoon sun.
DARK and FUZZY -- Top view of our Sunday wanderer.

The itsy bitsy spider

Tarantulas are beautiful creatures. Because of their round bodies, thick legs and hair, they almost seem cute, in an arachnoidal (is that a word?) way. This little one was on the sidewalk this morning as I made the rounds with the mower and weed whacker. He was about an inch and a quarter in diameter.

Jumping spiders are also cute, with their fuzz and their big eyes, but tarantulas take the cake.

Little tarantuly
FUZZY -- A small tarantula on the sidewalk.