Updated: Jan 3, 2021
Nice outing yesterday in a local riparian canyon to photograph stuff and check on a trail camera. This particular trail camera has documented 3 different bobcats (named 'Kool Aid', 'Pirate' and 'Tuning Fork' based on Rorschach test leg patterns). Started the day checking an area with frequent bobcat tracks and scats. The area is below a major highway, which Caltrans recently worked on to reroute a drainage that had blown out this winter due to copious rain and brought debris onto the nearby railroad tracks. I knew they had been using water on the job to test their work and to keep the dust from earth-moving to a minimum. Was hoping they had created some mud that makes for great tracking. My wish was granted.
The dried clay was thick and pottery-like, perfect for preserving these bobcat tracks. 'Tracks to go'!
An hour later I found myself in the vicinity of the trail camera when some movement caught my eye. A large female tarantula hawk or 'spider wasp' was dragging an even larger tarantula through the grass! Click the photo below for the video.
The wasp briefly left the tarantula behind and seemed to stagger around in the grass for a minute, before returning to reclaim her prize.
She will take the paralyzed spider back to a burrow and lay a single egg on the spider's body. The female seals the burrow and the larva, once hatched enters the abdomen of the still-living but paralyzed tarantula to feed. This goes on for about 3 weeks, all the while the larva apparently avoids vital organs of the spider to keep it alive as long as possible, before morphing into a new adult. Think you've had a rough day? Consider the spider.