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

Subject: Cicada killer with prey
Location: Roe, Monroe County, Arkansas
September 10, 2013 8:33 am
Thought I’d share this lucky shot with my cell phone camera! Taken 10:15 AM 9/10/2013 in Monroe County, AR. I was sitting on my porch enjoying the sunshine, and saw something fall from the tree. I was thrilled to watch this cicada killer drag her prey up the tree, where she paused above my hammock rope long enough for me to take a picture.
Signature: Sherry Young

Cicada Killer and Prey

Cicada Killer and Prey

Hi Sherry,
We believe this is the only photo of a Cicada Killer and her prey we have received this year.  Cicada Killers often drag paralyzed Cicadas up a tree or other high spot because they can then glide and fly toward the underground nest.  It is very difficult to gain altitude from the ground with such a heavy load.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: LARGE WASP?
Location: Phoenix AZ
September 5, 2013 2:49 pm
We saw this wasp hanging around our pool in Phoenix AZ this past Labor Day weekend. I have looked on your site and am thinking it is a Western Cicada Killer. It was a good 2 1/2” long & very scary!! What can you tell us about it? We are new to AZ & have never seen a wasp this big. How painful/dangerous is it’s sting? Does it really kill cicadas?
Signature: azleggs

Western Cicada Killer

Western Cicada Killer

Dear azleggs,
The colors on your photograph are so saturated and stunning.  The Western Cicada Killer is sure one impressive predator, even though as an adult it does not eat other insects.  The adult female hunts Cicadas to feed to her larval brood.  She stings the Cicada and drags it back to the underground nest which she provisions but does not defend.  We only have photos of Eastern Cicada Killers with their prey.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Giant Wasp?
Location: Oak Lawn IL
August 18, 2013 2:14 pm
I am trying to figure out what this hige wasp looking bug is, all of a sudden they are in my yard around my pool and this one pictured ended up drowning so I was able to snap some photos. Help please they are terrifying the family from going outside.
Signature: Dean P

Cicada Killer drowned in pool

Cicada Killer drowned in pool

Dear Dean,
This is a drowned Cicada Killer Wasp.  Cicada Killers are solitary wasps and they are not considered to be aggressive.  Female Cicada Killers, once they have mated, will dig a burrow and provision it with paralyzed Cicadas that they drag back to feed their larvae.  The female Cicada Killer stings the Cicada to paralyze it so that the meat will stay fresh and the developing larva eats its still living meal.  Male Cicada Killers will aggressively defend territory, however, they lack stingers and are perfectly harmless.  Occasionally we receive a report that someone has been stung by a Cicada Killer, but those reports are quite rare.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Ground nesting hornet
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ
July 28, 2013 11:34 am
My brother has an infestation of these in his yard. They make dirt pile nests in the ground similar to cicada killers, but these are something else. They’re quite large, about 2 1/2 inches long. They appear to be docile as they have not stung anyone. Thanks for your help!
Signature: Jen & Doug

Cicada Killer

Cicada Killer

Dear Jen & Doug,
This is a Cicada Killer, a large wasp that preys upon Cicadas to feed its brood.  They are solitary wasps and they are not considered aggressive, and as your email indicates, they “appear to be docile.”  For years we have said that we have not received a verified report of a Cicada Killer sting, but we recently posted a comment claiming that a person was stung and the sting was quite painful.  Male Cicada Killers will defend their territory by chasing much larger creatures, however male wasps are unable to sting since the stinger is a modified ovipositor, an organ for laying eggs.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Eastern Cicada killer wasp in the West?
Location: Albuquerque, NM
July 13, 2013 10:18 am
I have seen this giant wasp-like thing feeding on nectar for the past four days or so. Research on Wikipedia was insufficient to determine what kind of Cicada Killer it is (although it assured me I could get close enough to take pictures). I live in Albuquerque, NM and this seems to match closer to the Eastern Cicada killer than the Western or Pacific. Any thoughts would be helpful! This same bush has also played host to a fantastic Tarantula Hawk in the past.
Signature: Desert dweller

Eastern Cicada Killer

Eastern Cicada Killer

Dear Desert dweller,
We agree that this is an Eastern Cicada Killer.  We checked on BugGuide, and there is at least one sighting from New Mexico and at least one from Colorado, but that appears to be the westernmost reach of its range.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Large Yellow & Copper Bee
Location: Northern Nevada Mountain Desert
July 4, 2013 5:48 pm
I found this guy buzzing around our yard in Silver City, NV. (It’s just outside of Carson City. ) I have never see anything like this before! I generally don’t have too much trouble figuring out what we have out here (like the Tarantula Hawks – so cool!) but this one has me stumped. He’s copper, yellow & tan, about 1 1/2 ” from end to end & fairly sturdy looking. He’s a very quick flyer! It’s July 4th, 2013 & about 95 degrees outside. What do you think!? THANK YOU!
Signature: Michelle Pedersen

Western Cicada Killer

Western Cicada Killer

Hi Michelle,
We are quite excited to post your photo of a Western Cicada Killer,
Specius grandis, a relatively underrepresented species on our site.  During summer months, we get numerous identification requests for Eastern Cicada Killers, but nice photos of the western species are relatively rare for us.  Female Cicada Killer Wasps sting and paralyze Cicadas to provide food for their young.  More information and photos can be found on BugGuide.  Though we imagine Cicada Killers might deliver a painful sting to humans, they are not aggressive and we have never received a substantiated report of a person being stung.

Thanks so much for such a quick reply! It makes sense that we would have a cicada killer right now because we have a very large migration of cicadas coming through, too. (First time I can remember this in 10 years, as well.) Very cool – thanks for solving the mystery!!

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination