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Tarantula Hawk's sting can be excruciatingly painful

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PHOENIX -

You hear warnings about scorpions and rattle snakes here in the valley, but have you ever been warned about a tarantula hawk?

It's an insect with a painful sting and one that many Arizona natives have never heard about -- even though it may be living in your backyard!

It's also known as the pepsis wasp.

I've lived in Arizona all my life and I've never seen this, but the man we interviewed Wednesday night found the bug in my hometown, so that shows that many Arizonans have no idea these bugs could be buzzing around their own home!

Roger Allman discovered this scary sight in the backyard of his surprise home

"I thought the baddest looking bug I've ever seen," he said.

He believes it was in the tree above and died from the heat.

"My first thought was thank God it's dead."

"They're a very docile pest when it comes to be around humans.. behind they'll look a humming bird, unless provoked, they're gonna sting you," said bug expert Sage Garvey.

Garvey with Burns Pest Control says the tarantula hawk is part of the wasp family found throughout the world.
There's a growing population of them in Arizona and they usually pop up in early spring and in mid to late summer.

"They're sting is stated to be the second most painful sting from that family," said Garvey.

Bug experts and victims who've been stung by the tarantula hawk say that it's sting is like getting electrocuted.

"From the stories I've heard from things that have been used and stung with them, the pain is excruciating," said Garvey.

If you're brave, here's how the tarantula hawk got its name:

"They'll hunt down a tarantula, capture it.. their legs have hooks on them.. they'll capture it, sting it, paralyze it -- it's not built to kill it, drag it into a den, then lay one single egg in it.. it then feeds for a couple weeks then maybe a month or two," explained Garvey.

Then a new tarantula hawk is born and the tarantula itself typically survives!

"I'm hoping that no one gets stung or hurt because from everything I've read, it's the most painful thing you'll ever experience," said Allman.

Garvey says he's never heard of anyone in Arizona being stung.  If you see one, back off and go inside.

 

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