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Genus Hemipepsis - Tarantula-hawk Wasps

Wasp - Hemipepsis ustulata - female Small Tarantula Hawk at seepage - Hemipepsis ustulata - male Pepsinae with yellow antennae - Hemipepsis toussainti - female Tarantula Hawk - Hemipepsis ustulata - male Tarantula Hawk wasp? - Hemipepsis ustulata - female Flamed Tarantula Hawk - Hemipepsis ustulata spider wasp - Maybe Pepsis or Entypus? - Hemipepsis ustulata - male Hemipepsis ustulata - female
Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Hymenoptera (Ants, Bees, Wasps and Sawflies)
No Taxon (Aculeata - Ants, Bees and Stinging Wasps)
Superfamily Pompiloidea (Spider Wasps, Velvet Ants and allies)
Family Pompilidae (Spider Wasps)
Subfamily Pepsinae
Tribe Pepsini (Tarantula-hawk Wasps and Allies)
Genus Hemipepsis (Tarantula-hawk Wasps)
Other Common Names
Tarantula Wasps
Numbers
3 spp. in our area (one divided into 2 sspp.):(1)(2)
1. Hemipepsis mexicana: sw. TX (see Smithsonian Synoptic Insect Collection)
3. Hemipepsis ustulata: AZ, CA, CO, KS, NM, NV, OK, TX, UT
Size
Forewing length 11-27 mm (2), body length somewhat longer (and appearing longer yet when taking into account the long legs and antennae).
Identification
Hemipepsis are quite similar looking to Pepsis and Entypus, but distinguishable if clearly resolved images of wing venation are available. For details, see the posts thumbnailed below as well as comments by Nick Fensler under this post.



Species are keyed on pp. 33-34 of Townes (1957).(2)
Range
e. Texas, north to Kansas, west to California. H. mexicana and H. toussainti are more restricted in range than H. ustulata.
Habitat
On the ground in arid or semi-arid habitats. Males guard perches on the tops of shrubs. Both sexes are found at flowers.
Season
June-September in the northern part of the range. Can be found nearly year-round in the southern part of the range.
Food
Females provision with Theraphosids. Both sexes are found on flowers, especially milkweed.
Life Cycle
Usually a single generation per year; perhaps a second in the extreme southern part of the range.
Remarks
Both Hemipepsis and Pepsis are called "Tarantula Hawks." The genera are difficult to distinguish in the field and have very similar life histories. See account for Pepsis.
See Also
Print References
Milne has photo of Hemipepsis sp.--#458, describes, p. 839.(3)
Internet References
Univ. Calif. Riverside Insect FAQ--describes biology of Pepsis and Hemipepsis as identical, says genera difficult to distinguish (based on wing venation).
Works Cited
1.Catalog of Hymenoptera in America North of Mexico
Karl V. Krombein, Paul D. Hurd, Jr., David R. Smith, and B. D. Burks. 1979. Smithsonian Institution Press.
2.Nearctic Wasps of the Subfamilies Pepsinae and Ceropalinae
Henry K. Townes. 1957. Smithsonian Institute Press (Bulletin 209).
3.National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects and Spiders
Lorus and Margery Milne. 1980. Knopf.