Pompilid Wasps – The Spider Hunters:
Pimpilid wasp is an amazing family of wasps that are known as spider hunters. The pompilid in the above video specializes in hunting Bamboo Spiders. As the video documents, these wasps are very brave. Like the Emerald Jewel Wasp, featured in an earlier article, these wasps are very much prey-specific. These spider hunters do not hunt multiple types of spiders. In the case of this pompilid, she hunts only bamboo spiders.
Why is that you might ask? Well it is because of how she passes her genes on to her children. She has only daughters and never a husband. This is not an isolated case of strange reproductive cycles. Since she has only daughters, her DNA is never divided as is the case with human children. Humans are made up of 50% DNA from their fathers, and 50% DNA from their mothers. The pompilid is made up of 100% DNA from her mother, and this combination makes them the perfect spider killer.
This is important because she is designed to do one thing... Keep Bamboo Spider populations in check. Without preditors, like these spider killers, the world would likely have been over run with Bamboo spiders. That of course is a slight exaggeration... because eventually starvation would cause the Bamboo spider's population to die back. In the meantime, the world would have lost many beneficial insects such as bees to the spiders, and that would not be good for anyone, including the spiders.
Wasp and other predators play a specific role in our world. They act as a control agent to prey populations. Outside of the insect world we can see the work that predators do. They kill off the weak so that strong can survive. Sometimes luck plays a part in who is to be prey and who is not. In the world of natural selection, strong is not always the strongest member of the population, it is the member who can take advantage of the most resources and survives to reproduce that is thestrongest... or maybe fittest is a better word.
Here is a modernstory of peopleinterfering in nature... The state of California moved some deer to a small island here in the San Francisco bay area. The island was a perfect habitat for the deer, and they bred and had a lot of baby deer. The Fish and Game department decided to allow a limited amount of hunting to occur on the island. People went crazy and protested and protested and protested stating that killing the animals was cruel and so with enough public support the Department of Fish and Game canceled the idea of hunting on the island. Instead, the public began to use the island for day-hikes, picnics, and artist vistas. After a year, the complaints started to roll in to the department. There as a dead deer on the island. There was another dead deer on the island. The deer were walking up to people and steeling their food. So the Deptartment of Fish and Game went out to check on the deer. What they discovered was that there was no food. The deer had eaten everything and the entire population was starving to death. Most of the deer were so malnourished that theycould barely walk. Eventually, they had to be put down. So I ask you this, is it better to shoot a few deer each year, or let an entire population of deer suffer and die through starvation? If you need time to think about this... skip your next three meals and get back to me.
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