What are these horror creatures?
January 13, 2007 11:57 PM   Subscribe

What are these two terrifying invertebrates?

They live in rural southeastern Australia. They're bigger than they look in the photo; the spider's legspan was about two inches. The wasp-like creature had killed the spider and was dragging him backwards on the ground. The spider looks like a wolf spider to me, but he was about the size of a huntsman. I've never seen the flying beast before. When I interrupted them, he started flying around, and his wings were big enough to make one of those deeply unsettling hums that could be heard from a few feet away.
posted by stammer to Pets & Animals (10 answers total)
Best answer: The wasp is an Australian Spider Wasp. I'm pretty sure the spider is a Brown Huntsman.
posted by RichardP at 12:13 AM on January 14, 2007

Response by poster: Superb, thanks. I'm not 100% sure about the huntsman ID - he didn't quite look hunstman-shaped to me - but the colouring looks right.

So he wasn't dead after all. Not yet, anyway!
posted by stammer at 12:23 AM on January 14, 2007

Ah, Nature; orange in tooth and claw! Except insects don't have teeth. I've seen the orange-winged creature or something similar, (in Melbourne) and their wings do make an unsettling noise. Always assumed it was some kind of native wasp- actually I have no idea. But that's a beaut photo.
posted by Coaticass at 12:24 AM on January 14, 2007

Oops, one day I'll learn to preview. Nice to know they're not aggressive, RichardP, cause they've always given me the willies. I think it's partly the noise.
posted by Coaticass at 12:27 AM on January 14, 2007

That spider looks more to me like a wolf spider. I've seen them up to 5cm across. That seems to be the upper end of the range though.
posted by claudius at 12:49 AM on January 14, 2007

There are a lot of wasps that hunt spiders, but not to eat. It's female wasps doing the hunting, and they lay one egg on each spider they catch. There's a kind of wasp here in North America that hunts tarantulas and uses them that way. They're known as "Tarantula hawks".
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:56 AM on January 14, 2007

Your picture looks really similar to the one in the Wikipedia entry for the Spider Wasp.
posted by roomwithaview at 1:25 AM on January 14, 2007

Best answer: I had the same dilemma of a spider I photographed (huntsman vs. wolf spider). In its flickr thread, someone offered the distinction "if you look at the eye configuration you wil see the eyes are in three rows: of 4 then 2 and 2, which is that of a wolf spider (Family Lycosidae)... huntsmans eyes are always in two rows of four. also huntsmans have a dorsoventrally flattened body and their legs are spread out like a crab so they can scuttle sideways as well as forwards." (hopefully quoted with their approval). I can't see eyes in your photo, but maybe that description will ring a few bells for you.
posted by artifarce at 7:36 AM on January 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

Not in Australia, but apparently there are wasps somewhat similar here. I was living about 50 miles NE of Sacramento, CA, when I discovered several mud-daubed wasps' nests... Broke them open, and what did I find inside but -hundreds- of paralyzed spiders. Granted, they weren't as big as huntsmen or wolf spiders, but there were a -lot- of little ones in each mud cylinder. Creepy, it was, but awesomely cool nonetheless.
posted by po at 4:49 PM on January 14, 2007

The Spider eyes project may be helpful...
posted by dhruva at 4:52 PM on January 14, 2007

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