A wasp that typically hunts tarantulas has drawn national attention after experts offered a simple piece of advice if it bites you: "Just lie down and start yelling."
The tarantula hawk, which has been seen as far north as Logan, Utah, is a native to almost every continent. The females, which have the stinger, aren’t always aggressive but can offer a pretty painful sting.
Pain from the sting only last three minutes, but the pain has been defined as “unacceptable,” according to WIRED, which labeled the spider as the “absurd creature of the week.”
Invertebrate biologist Ben Hutchins of Texas Parks and Wildlife said the pain may be too much for many people to handle.
“There are some vivid descriptions of people getting stung by these things,” Hutchins said, “and their recommendation — and this was actually in a peer-reviewed journal — was to just lie down and start screaming, because few, if any, people could maintain verbal and physical coordination after getting stung by one of these things. You’re likely to just run off and hurt yourself. So just lie down and start yelling."
That peer review journal article actually has one account where a scientist captured 10 tarantula hawks, who all began to sting him.
“Undeterred after the first sting, he continued, receiving several more stings, until the pain was so great he lost all of them and crawled into a ditch and just bawled his eyes out,” the paper reads.
So why do they have such a brutal sting?
“The tarantula hawks are really bold in terms of wasps,” says Hutchins. “Researchers think that’s because they have very few natural predators. They have such an effective deterrent mechanism, and that’s their really painful sting.”
According to The Epoch Times, a person wrote on the social media network Imgur that he had been stung by the wasp. And yep. The pain was horrific, he said.
“Within half a second of being stung, the pain begun, and I dropped straight to the ground and started screaming my head off. It was excruciating, all-encompassing — I lost the ability to think about anything else but the brutal, blinding pain wracking my body,” the person wrote.
People in Texas have shared their concern over the wasps, though experts said there’s nothing to worry about.
Texas A&M entomologist Molly Keck told KENS-5 the wasps will mostly leave people alone. Stepping on them by accident is the most common way people are stung, she said.
"You have to want to be stung by them — pick them up or smash them in your hand,” she said.