New residents in our lawn.
Location: Cincinnati OH, Hyde Park area
July 20, 2011 8:33 am
there are several of these which have created a nest in our lawn. I’m hesitant to mow for fear of stirring them up. Two of these creatures have been observed capturing a full size cicada and wrestling them along the grass near the nest. I think there are multiple entrences which have a sandy low mound or are hidden under tufts of normal grass but they can be seen disappearing into this area.
Signature: Tom Osborne
In your few brief sentences, you have provided many clues as to the identity of your wasp. This is a Cicada Killer, a species of Sand Wasp, and they form solitary burrows in sandy soil, though multiple females may nest in the same area. The males defend the territory, however, their aggressive behavior is mostly a show as the males are not capable of stinging. The female Cicada Killer does all the work regarding care of the new family. She excavates the burrow and provisions it with living Cicadas that have been stung and paralyzed. She lays an egg on the Cicada, and the “comatose” victim will provide a live meal for the developing wasp larva. We have never been able to confirm a report of a Cicada Killer stinging a person, though there is great fear associated with them, which we believe to be unfounded. Cicada Killers are often exterminated because of a perceived threat, though it seems no one ever comes forward with a verified account of having been stung. Since the female Cicada Killer does possess a stinger, it is entirely feasible that she might sting if provoked, but that does not seem to happen. There will be activity around the burrows for a few weeks, and then once the nest is completed, with usually 2-7 nursery chambers, the female will die. New adults will emerge next summer. Cicada Killers in future generations are likely to return to the same nesting location provided the conditions like sandy soil and an abundant nearby habitat rich in Cicadas are still available.