Currently viewing the category: "Cicada Killer Wasps"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Nice Cicada-killer wasp with prey
Location: Charlottesville, Virginia, US
August 11, 2016 3:38 pm
I actually have two of these in front of my door — one burrow is beneath a corner of my front walk, the other is apparently under a nearby holly tree. Here’s a pic I got of the former carrying a cicada
Signature: Dave H,

Cicada Killer with Prey

Cicada Killer with Prey

Dear Dave,
You don’t know how refreshing it is for us to receive an image of a Cicada Killer with its prey that we can tag with Food Chain as opposed to tagging it with Unnecessary Carnage since we receive so many images of dead Cicada Killers.  So many people have irrational fears about Cicada Killers, and we concur that they are large and quite formidable looking, but as the host to two underground broods, we would love to have you write back so we can verify to our readership that Cicada Killers are not aggressive toward humans.

A Facebook Comment from Wanda
In all my years of weeding and tending my Rain Garden, I have never – repeat never – been approached or threatened by a Cicada Killer Wasp, even those who were larger than my thumb! I can safely say the same for the other wasps in my garden: Northern Paper, Great Black, Great Golden Digger, Potter and others. They are all more interested in the nectar from the plants, especially the milkweed. I walk past them, they fly past me as I work, they don’t even land on me. I welcome them for the pollinating work they do.

Dave H. confirms Cicada Killer Docility
Subject: Re:  Indeed, Cicada-killers are quite mellow
August 12, 2016 11:42 am
I’ve watched them often as I stood outside smoking,  and they’ve never even made a warning swoop toward me.   Surely one of the biggest wasps most folks will encounter, but also one of the least dangerous.
While I’m at it, I just wanted to compliment that picture of a molting cicada — that one is truly spectacular, and the little girl in the background just underlines the wonder of the moment.
Signature: Dave Harmon

We agree that it is a wonderful image Dave.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Large flying black and yellow insect
Location: Hamilton OH
August 6, 2016 8:38 am
Found this flying around our wood deck mid morning on Aug 6, 2016. My husband knocked it down with a flyswatter and trapped it in a peanut butter jar. Our five grandkids are fascinated and want to know what type of insect it is. My husband wants to know if it will destroy our deck.
Hope you can help!
Signature: T. Spears

Cicada Killer

Cicada Killer

Dear T. Spears,
Your deck is safe from this Cicada Killer Wasp, a non-aggressive species that will basically ignore humans, though humans often kill them out of irrational fears.  The female Cicada Killer will excavate an underground nest that she provisions with paralyzed Cicadas that provide a living source of fresh meat for her growing brood.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Rather large bee?
Location: Bayville, New Jersey
July 20, 2016 8:28 am
I’d like to know what this is.
Signature: Naomi

Cicada Killer

Cicada Killer

Dear Naomi,
This is a Cicada Killer, a large, non-aggressive, solitary wasp that hunts Cicadas.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Large Wasp ID
Location: Southeastern Washington State
July 9, 2016 12:32 pm
First time these 2″ monsters in South Eastern Washington State. Attracted to all bushes and trees, with or without fruit or flowers. attracted to water also
Signature: Tracey- Washington State

Western Cicada Killer Carnage

Western Cicada Killer Carnage

Dear Tracey,
No insect winds up on our Unnecessary Carnage page more than the Eastern Cicada Killer, because these solitary wasps are large and frightening looking, however they are not aggressive, and though a female is capable of stinging, they do not seem at all interested in stinging people.  You have submitted an image of the Eastern Cicada Killer’s western cousin, the Western Cicada Killer, and we don’t generally get Unnecessary Carnage images of the Western Cicada Killer because we just get far fewer images of them.  Like the eastern cousin, the Western Cicada Killer is a solitary wasp and it is not aggressive.  It was likely searching your trees and bushes for Cicadas because female Cicada Killers sting and paralyze Cicadas, and then drag them back to the nest they have constructed underground.  The female lays an egg on the paralyzed Cicada which then acts as food for the developing larva.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Is this a cicada killer?
Location: Sioux Falls, South Dakota
July 2, 2016 1:02 pm
Started off with one in the wall by my driveway and now there are dozens flying around. It is a duck wall with dirt. They dig into the wall and hang out around the wall during the day”fighting” eachother. What are they? Yellow jackets, hornets, some other singing bug?
Thanks, want to get rid of them if they attack since have small kids who miss riding their bikes in the driveway.
Signature: Jenngi

Cicada Killer Carnage

Cicada Killer Carnage

Dear Jenngi,
Though male Cicada Killer wasps are quite territorial, they are incapable of stinging. They are very specific about preying upon Cicadas. Female Cicada Killer wasps are not aggressive, and we have yet to receive a report from someone being stung by a Cicada Killer.  In our opinion, they do not pose a threat to your children.  This is our first reported Cicada Killer sighting of the year and we are saddened that it is a dead individual.  We would urge you to educate your children about the natural world around them so that they can appreciate and respect the lower beasts.

Thank you for your quick reply. Now we can watch these awesome creatures, have about 15 now, without the fear of multiple settings. It is a relief to hear that these are not aggressive stinging wasps or hornets and will not be creating a nest of thousands so close to our entry into the house and where we play. The kids love and respect all creatures big and small. We strive to live in peace with creatures. Thank you again for the reply.

Thanks for getting back to us Jenngi.  As further clarification, only social wasps like hornets, yellow jackets and paper wasps will defend a nest by stinging.  Solitary wasps like Cicada Killers do not defend the nest.  Though they sometimes nest in colonies where soil conditions and hunting prospects are ideal, Cicada Killers are solitary wasps.  Again, male Cicada Killers will defend territory, especially against other male Cicada Killers, but only females have a stinger which is used to paralyze Cicadas to act as food for the developing young.  Cicada Killers appear in the summer and the larvae that are developing in the subterranean nest will not emerge until the subsequent summer.  Cicada Killers females are capable of stinging, but we believe this will only occur if they are handled.

Subject: Cicada Killer life
July 2, 2016 6:44 pm
How long are cicada killers active? First one appeared about a week ago and now there are about 15-20 in the wall right by my driveway. Are they out  all summer? Also do they kill bumblebees too?
Signature: Jenngi

Cicada Killers do NOT prey on Bumble Bees.  You should expect activity for about four to six weeks, during which time females will hunt Cicadas to provision the nest for the developing young.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Hornet?
Location: Massachusetts, USA
October 11, 2015 5:29 pm
Hi, I’ve seen this strange hornet-like bug in my backyard a couple times over the summer when I went to mow my lawn. It makes a buzzing noise like any bee-like creature when it flies, but it doesn’t look particularly like a bee or hornet. The eyes also resemble those of a grasshopper.
Signature: -J

Cicada Killer

Cicada Killer

Dear J,
This is very late in the year for a Cicada Killer sighting, so we suspect the image was taken this summer.  Cicada Killers are not aggressive, but they might sting, but only if carelessly handled.  The female Cicada Killer provisions her subterranean nest with paralyzed Cicadas.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination