The largest wasp in the world hunts tarantulas and boasts the second most painful sting on Earth!
The tarantula hawk is the largest wasp in the world, reaching two inches in length. Their stinger alone is a third of an inch.
If that wasn't enough, the Schmidt Pain Index, which rates how painful a sting is, has the sting coming in at the second most painful sting in the world! Only the bullet ant ranks higher.
Before you get too freaked out, it rarely stings without provocation. It mostly uses its stinger to paralyze tarantulas. The spiders are used as food for their larvae until maturation.
Once it paralyzes a tarantula, it transports it to a special nest and lays a single egg which, once hatched, burrows into the tarantula and eats it, avoiding vital organs to keep it alive as long as possible. This lasts a few weeks before the larva matures.
Another interesting thing about these creatures: they can become intoxicated if they eat too much fermented fruit. When this happens, the wasps have difficulty flying.
There are hundreds of species that live all over the world, from India to Southeast Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Americas.They've been observed from as far north as Goldendale, Washington in the United States, and south as far as Argentina in South America. They are also the state insect of New Mexico.