Wasps usually don’t eat their prey, as they must feed their young. Social wasps catch insects, chop them, and then take the parts to their nest. There are spider wasps that paralyze their prey using sting that has venom.
There are around 5000 species of spider wasps. Solitary and social wasps usually feed on sugary foods instead of eating insects. This means they mostly eat flower nectar, honeydew, or other food that has sugar. Wasp larvae produce a certain liquid that the adult wasps eat.
Wasps are carnivorous predators. Their diet includes different insects, such as spiders, bees, flies. This usually happens during the larval stage. The worker wasps bring parts of insects and other types of meat to feed the larvae.
Some wasp species feed on caterpillars, beetles. An example of this is yellow jackets that build their nests close to the ground or even underground, which opens up a lot of opportunities for food. They also like human foods, especially those that are sugary. They also enjoy all kinds of meat.
While for most wasp species, spiders are not the main part of their diet, there are solitary wasps called Tarantula hawks and Mud dauber wasps that particularly prey on spiders.
Do all wasps eat spiders?
Not all species of wasps eat spiders. For most wasps, spiders are just an additional source of food for feeding the larvae. However, there are certain species that prey specifically on spiders.
These include mud dauber wasp and tarantula hawk. These are spider-hunting wasps that capture and paralyze their prey. However, they don’t eat spiders but use them for laying their eggs and as food for the larvae.
The tarantula hawk wasp has a powerful venom in the stinger that completely paralyzes the spider. But this venom will not immediately kill the spider. Like many parasitic solitary wasps, the tarantula hawk wasp uses a spider as a place to lay its eggs. After the eggs hatch, the spider serves as fresh food for larvae. They eat a spider from the inside out.
Mud Dauber Wasp versus Spider
Like many other parasitic wasps, mud dauber wasp captures its prey and paralyzes it with powerful venom. These solitary wasp species build small vase-shaped nests. The male wasps bring spiders to the nest and protect the nest from external threats, which is quite rare behavior among male solitary wasps.
Mud daubers prey on small colorful spiders, such as crab spiders, jumping spiders, and orb weavers. Those are usually black and yellow mud daubers. There are also blue mud daubers that prey on black widow spiders.
Mud daubers feed on flower nectar, but they prey on spiders to stock their nests with them as a food reserve for offspring. And they choose particular spiders to stock their nests. Instead of having one or two big spiders in the nest, they try to cram as many small paralyzed spiders as possible into their nest.
You can see this behavior in this video:
These wasps also lay eggs on paralyzed spiders and seal them into the nest with a mud cap. This is where their name came from. And by doing that, the wasps make sure the young survive the winter in the nest.
Tarantula Wasp versus Spider
There are several species of wasps that are good spider hunters, and the tarantula wasp is one of them. The Tarantula Wasp can be found in the southern states of the US and in Mexico. It’s a big wasp that hunts even bigger tarantulas and uses them to lay its eggs.
It injects the powerful venom into the tarantula’s body to paralyze it. Then the wasp lays its eggs on the tarantula and buries it underground with them.
Are spiders helpless against wasps?
Spiders are not helpless against wasps, but wasps have a huge advantage – powerful paralyzing venom in their stinger. This venom doesn’t kill the spider. It keeps the spider alive while it’s paralyzed, so the wasp can manipulate its body how it wants.
There were some cases of spiders that got rid of their legs in order to escape the wasp stings. So mostly, it depends on the wasp species and the spider. The tarantula hawk wasp has an advantage over most of the spiders, while some of the biggest spiders have an advantage over other species of wasps.
Another advantage that the wasps have compared to spiders is their movement abilities. The wasps can move in different directions, as their wings allow them to do so, while spiders are mostly confined to the ground or to their web, meaning those spiders can only move in a single plane.
This makes spiders a good prey as they are easy to attack from the position where the spider can’t fight back.
Are spiders scared of wasps?
Not all spiders are scared of wasps. And maybe there is no such thing for spiders as ‘being scared of wasps.’ I think they just see a threat, in this case, a wasp, and try to protect themselves by biting or escaping. Here wins the strongest.
Many big spiders are capable of dealing with wasps and venom when they sting. Mostly, small spiders become prey for wasps as they can’t handle the paralyzing venom, so when a wasp stings, the spider dies. Also, the spider can bite a wasp, so it will die from the bite as well.
What spiders eat wasps?
Not many spiders eat wasps, but sometimes big spiders can capture and eat a wasp. Most spiders use their web to catch their prey. Sometimes wasps get trapped in the spider’s web, so spiders can take advantage of that and eat the wasp.
Yellow garden spiders are with distinctive yellow and black markings. This huge spider has venom that it injects into the victim’s body. Then it wraps the prey in a silk coon that it will eat later. Besides wasps and other insects, yellow garden spiders prey on geckos and small lizards.