Identifying Tarantula Hawk by Species

Many thanks to Curator silversea_starsong for providing this information in an earlier message stream.

How do I differentiate the identification between two Pepis species that apparently inhabit the same geographic area? In particular: Pepsis mildei and Pepsis thisbe here in San Diego. From the photos I see orange antennae on the iNat example pics for mieldei, and black on the thisbe. Is that the indicator? Many thanks.

Jim Parker

31 Oct 08:33
silversea_starsong silversea_starsong

Hi Jim,
Yes antennae is the quick and easy way to separate these two. In San Diego you probably get chrysothemis and mexicana too. Both of these also have black antennae like thisbe, but the former has very reddish wings (not orange) and the latter has black wings. There may be some non-Pepsis tarantula hawks in the area but I've not heard of them. They usually look like thisbe but are a bit smaller and have no iridescent blue.


31 Oct 08:49
silversea_starsong silversea_starsong

Oh and mildei does not have a pale wing tip. It just has the dark band there. Chrysothemis has the dark band with no tip also. If the wings are damaged you might not be able to tell. Then there is pallidolimbata which has no dark band, but no one talks about this one. I wonder if it is actually in southern CA.

31 Oct 08:53
jwparker2 jwparker2
Many thanks!

31 Oct 08:57
silversea_starsong silversea_starsong

So quick summary:

Pepsis thisbe: large, black antennae, orange wings with dark band, and then a pale wing tip.
Pepsis mildei: smaller, orange antennae, orange wings with dark band, no pale tip.
Pepsis chrysothemis: smaller, black antennae, if red wings, easy -- may be more orange at times? Dark band, no pale tip.
Pepsis pallidolimbata: orange wings, no dark band, but pale tip.
Pepsis mexicana: large, entirely dark, more likely to be mistaken for other wasps like Sphex pennsylvanicus.

Hemipepsis et al: supposed to be small, maybe not much smaller than mildei, but with no blue iridescence. Real ID feature is the wing vein pattern, so just get good wing shots if you suspect anything.

31 Oct 09:00
silversea_starsong silversea_starsong

Here's a Hemipepsis from Riverside County, very clearly black with no blue iridescence. Looks small.

Posted on October 31, 2019 05:09 PM by jwparker2 jwparker2


Thanks, Jim!

Posted by klyle161 over 4 years ago

Add a Comment

Sign In or Sign Up to add comments

Gracias al apoyo de:

¿Quiere apoyarnos? Pregúntenos cómo escribiendo a