Currently viewing the category: "Cicada Killer Wasps"
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

Subject: Identify Wasps
Location: South Central MN
July 30, 2015 7:54 am
Since 2013 I’ve been caring for a large rain garden on Faribault County, MN. The pollinators have been late to return, but now I have several of them and of large size, too. I took some photos yesterday and include three below, which to my untrained eye look like wasps. They have never gone after me, even when I’ve been working in the garden, preferring instead to to move from blossom to blossom.
Image 1 is pictured on the leaf of an achemilla plant. I rarely see this wasp, so for me this was a lucky shot.
Image 2 was a surprise close-up. It looks very much like Image 3 along the abdomen but the head is different in color and markings. To my eye the antennae also differ.
Image 8196 is the most common in my garden. These vary in size from small to as big as my pinky. Right now they are in the large range, approaching thumb size. They are are hefty in weight; blossoms droop when they land on them. They seem to favor milkweed and ratibida (yellow coneflower).
There are a couple others I see now and again, such as the the Great Black and a red version of same with black tip on base of abdomen.
Then there’s one with long legs that trail in flight, though I’ve not been able to capture a photo. Again, I feel safe enough in my garden; I do my weeding thing and they do their thing on the blossoms. I wear a hat and long sleeves with gloves, which I think helps.
Can you identify them? Are they native or exotic?
Thank you.
Signature: Wanda J. Kothlow

Unknown Wasp

Potter Wasp

Goodness Wanda,
There are at least ten times more words in your request than in most of the phrases we generally receive.  We miss the chatty identification requests from days gone by before everyone was able to connect to the internet with cellular telephones and people began to forget how to write.  Your first Wasp is not something we immediately recognize, though we suspect it is a Potter or Mason Wasp.  It looks very similar to this 
Ancistrocerus adiabatus posted to BugGuide.

Paper Wasp

Paper Wasp

Your second Wasp is a Paper Wasp in the genus Polistes, and a quick glance at BugGuide has us believing it is the Northern Paper Wasp,  Polistes fuscatus.  According to BugGuide:  “Adult P. fuscatus feed mainly on plant nectar. The species is considered insectivorous because it kills caterpillars and other small insects in order to provide food for developing larvae. Foragers collect various prey insects to feed to the larvae. The wasp then malaxates, or softens the food and in doing so absorbs most of the liquid in the food. This solid portion is given to older larvae and the liquid is regurgitated to be fed to younger larvae. (Turillazzi and West-Eberhard, 1996)”

Cicada Killer

Cicada Killer

Your hefty behemoth is a magnificent Cicada Killer, and your indication that there is a significant population of them indicates a ready food supply for the larvae.  Female Cicada Killers sting and paralyze Cicadas to provision an underground nest.  There is one generation per year and where they are found, Cicada Killers make seasonal appearances.  None of your wasps are considered aggressive.  Thanks again for your entertaining submission.  Your rain garden sounds like it has a very healthy ecosystem.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: A beautiful type of wasp?
Location: Phoenix arizona
July 28, 2015 6:02 pm
I found this awesome little dude in my laundry room and I’m dying to know what they are.
Signature: Brooke c

Western Cicada Killer

Western Cicada Killer

Dear Brooke,
This positively gorgeous wasp is a Western Cicada Killer,
Specius grandis.  Though Cicada Killers are not aggressive and we have not gotten any legitimate documentation of a person being stung by a Cicada Killer, the possibility does exist and we imagine a person might be stung if carelessly handling a Cicada Killer.  We get many more identification requests for the Eastern Cicada Killer, and images of Western Cicada Killers are not too common in our archives.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination