Ground Dwelling Black and Orange Flying Insect
Location: Central New York
July 22, 2011 10:46 am
We have hundreds of these flying in our backyard. We started seeing them (in very small numbers a couple of years ago). The live in solitary holes, mounds of dirt around the holes, hover close to the ground, chase anyone who ventures near… Some have clear wings and some have orange wings. They’re between 1 1/2 inches and 2 inches long. The ’come out’ around mid July and last until sometime in August. At first we thought they cicada killers – because they carry bugs back to their lair; but they definitely don’t look like the pictures of c.killers I’ve seen. Can you tell me what these are?
These are most certainly Cicada Killers and we are very intrigued by the swarming behavior you are describing. Since Cicada Killers are solitary wasps, they do not swarm in the same sense that honey bees or hornets swarm, but we imaging that they present a frightening picture because of their large size. First, we understand that the aggressors are generally male Cicada Killers that are defending their territory while trying to lure prospective mates to nest in areas they are protecting. Male Cicada Killers do not possess a stinger, so while they may dive bomb you, your pets, and even birds that enter the vicinity, they are perfectly harmless. Female Cicada Killers do possess a stinger, but they are more interested in using it on Cicadas so that they can feed their brood. We have not received a verified report of anyone being stung by a Cicada Killer though we imagine a female is quite capable of stinging. You indicate that you have hundreds of them and that is most likely due to an increase in recent years of the number of Cicadas. Insect populations tend to by cyclical. We are very curious to know how this drama will play out. Please keep us posted as to any developments. We are positively thrilled with your photos that clearly show numerous Cicada Killers in close proximity to one another.