When she’s on your property, it’s her property.

I kind of make a big deal about private property, tourists not welcome, “no trespassing” means you.

I make exceptions.


That’s a wasp called a Tarantula Hawk. They’re attracted to water.

I went out after lunch to finish up and clean up. Went up on the ladder with a tube of silicone sealer to patch that one leak in the coupler, then cut the runoff pipe to size, hauled off a whole bunch of dirt (still need to dig out the ditch before Monsoon) put away my tools, then went around with my magnet and filled a bucket with garbage for the dump. Last thing I did was bring the hose up the ladder and wet the roof down good, looking for leaks. No leaks.

And I was putting the ladder away when this lady came by. The males are completely harmless but since I can’t tell the difference I naturally assume they’re all female. And all I can say about that is I’m glad they’re not aggressive, because I give them all the space they want.

Stung by a tarantula hawk? The advice I give in speaking engagements is to lie down and scream. The pain is so debilitating and excruciating that the victim is at risk of further injury by tripping in a hole or over an object in the path and then falling onto a cactus or into a barbed-wire fence. Such is the sting pain that almost nobody can maintain normal coordination or cognitive control to prevent accidental injury. Screaming is satisfying and helps reduce attention to the pain of the sting.

They’re big but they’re not that big.

The weird thing about their venom is that it’s completely nontoxic: It’s the second most-painful known insect sting, but it’s not actually a toxin. Allegedly you won’t believe it at the time, but once the endless 3 minutes pass you’ll be fine if you didn’t injure yourself thrashing around. Nobody has ever been able to analyze the chemical except to say that it’s very weird – the assumption is that since its principal purpose is to paralyze but not kill tarantulas (the spider is eaten alive by wasp larvae, a death that kind of makes you want to find a theologian and discuss the concept of a loving creator) it can’t be lethal. And since no predator would ever dare risk a second sting in its entire life, the wasp’s behavior is its best defense: They have bright red wings which they constantly flip and display as if to say, “Yeah. It’s me. I’ll be here for a while, just go do something else and you’ll be fine.”

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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6 Responses to When she’s on your property, it’s her property.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Joel. Larry Rose 🌹 Jest passed away 5:37pm. Today

  2. Joel says:

    Oh, hell. Thanks for telling me.

  3. Cederq says:

    May I inquire,, who is Larry Rose? I have never heard of him.

  4. Joel says:

    No reason you would have. He’s a very long-time personal friend. I went a long way to visit him before I moved to the desert and we haven’t corresponded much since.

  5. Unclezip says:

    Those things sound like a B-17 going by. You will die, if you get stung and are standing near a cliff.

  6. Mike says:

    OK Joel, you win… The worst we have to deal here in southern Ontario are Black Widows. And, while they’re nasty, they are only a threat to very young children or old decrepit people like me. I’m starting to think your neck of the world is like Oz, where everything is trying to hurt, maim or kill you.

    I’m sadden to hear that one of your old friends has passed. One can only hope that he passed peacefully and if not, that he died well.

To the stake with the heretic!