How to Kill a Tarantula Hawk Wasp

Updated March 28, 2018

The tarantula hawk wasp, also known as the pepsis wasp, grows 21 to 51mm long and has a black body and orange wings. It attacks and kills tarantula spiders to provide food for its larvae. After the wasp stings and paralyses the spider, it lays eggs on it. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae suck the fluids from the live and paralysed spider, eventually eating it. Luckily, these wasps seldom attack humans unless provoked. Their stings are excruciatingly painful, but they are seldom lethal. Still, you may want to rid your yard of them.

Put on gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, long trousers, socks, boots and a hat. These items will help protect you from wasp stings.

Locate the tarantula hawk wasp nest at dusk. It will look like a regular wasp nest. Check peaks in your roof and in trees. Do not engage wasps during the day; this is when they are most active.

Find a tree limb or branch that is approximately 10 feet long. Secure four cotton balls on the end of the stick, poking the stick through them.

Light the cotton balls with a lighter. Stick the flame under the wasp nest until it catches fire. This will only take a matter of moments. Step back 20 feet, place the limb on the ground, and step on the cotton balls until they are no longer on fire.

Spray any wasps emerging from the nest with wasp killer as instructed on its label. If you feel the wasps will attack you, go indoors immediately.


Never engage wasps if you don't know if you are allergic to their stings. If you are allergic, don't engage wasps at all, and have someone else remove them. Use caution around open flames and wasp killer.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Long-sleeved shirt
  • Long trousers
  • Socks
  • Boots
  • Hat
  • 4 cotton balls
  • 10-foot stick
  • Lighter
  • Wasp killer
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About the Author

Jess Jones has been a freelance writer since 2005. She has been a featured contributing writer for "Curve Magazine" and she teaches English composition at a small college in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She received her Master of Arts in English language and literature in 2002.