How to Kill a Tarantula Hawk Wasp
Carbaryl is contact pesticide, and it works quickly. However, you can't waste any movement after you start pouring the pesticide in the nest. The moment you assault the nest, the tarantula hawk wasps try to escape, so move quickly with the fill dirt and trap those bad boys inside. Tarantula hawks are metallic blue-black in coloration, with violet, bright red or amber colored wings and are quite large. Males wasps have straight antennae, while the females are curled.
Tarantula hawk wasps bring the pain. These bad boys have 1/3-inch-long stingers that inject paralyzing venom into tarantulas -- unless you excite them and become the target. Aggravated tarantula hawks will sting you, and the sting measures four out of four on the Schmidt pain scale, according to University of Arizona entomologist John Schmidt, who describes it as, "blinding, shockingly electric." If you live in the Southwest and have tarantulas, you likely have unsightly tarantula-wasp burrows that have small piles of excavated dirt nearby. You have the best chance of dispatching tarantula hawks at night.
Look over the area where you've seen tarantula hawks for a small hole or holes in the ground 1 to 2 inches across, similar to the entrance to a rodent burrow.
Pile about 1 gallon of soil near the nest entrance. You want the soil close enough to cover the hole quickly after you drop in the pesticide. Place a shovel alongside the soil.
Cover your flashlight lens with a piece of red cellophane. White light at night agitates wasps, and red-filtered light doesn't; you'll use the flashlight to approach the nest at night.
Ready a 1-quart bottle of ready-to-use 5-percent carbaryl pesticide, or mix 2 tablespoons of wettable 5-percent carbaryl powder with 1 quart of water.
Don your protective gear after dusk and before you approach the nest entrance; put on goggles, respirator and gloves and tuck your long pants into your boots. You can also wear a basic stinging-insect safety suit. Leave no area of clothing open that could allow a tarantula wasp access.
Pour the quart of mixed carbaryl in the nest and immediately cover it with the readied soil. Tamp the soil down and let it sit as is for 48 hours. If somehow the wasps survived and you see the entrance open after 48 hours, repeat the carbaryl treatment.
Excavate the nest and destroy it with the shovel.
- University of California Riverside Entomology: Tarantula Hawks, Pepsis Spp. (Pompilidae)
- University of California Riverside Entomology: Control of Wasps
- University of Arizona Agriculture Department: Wasp Management
- UCIPM Online: Carbaryl
- GardenTech: SV27 -- Sevin Dust Label Update v4
- Daily Mail Online: The 10 Most Painful Stings on the Planet
- San Dieguito River Park: Tarantula Hawk Wasp With Its Prey
A.J. Andrews' work has appeared in Food and Wine, Fricote and "BBC Good Food." He lives in Europe where he bakes with wild yeast, milks goats for cheese and prepares for the Court of Master Sommeliers level II exam. Andrews received formal training at Le Cordon Bleu.