What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Dear Mr. Bugman,
I live in northern Connecticut. Yesterday morning I noticed from a distance what I
initially thought was a dragonfly over my lawn. Upon closer inspection, I was totally amazed by something I have never in my life seen before. It looked like a GIANT yellow jacket. It was 4 1/2 to 5 inches long. The abdomen on it was black with bright yellow stripes and shiny, just like a yellow jacket. It flew around close to the ground for a few seconds, then disappeared into a hole in the ground about 1 1/2 to 2 cm. wide. I noticed quite a bit of dirt thrown around the outside of the hole, apparently from it digging its nest out. It wasn’t aggressive, as when the dog tried to sniff at it (I pulled him back in a hurry!) it just kept looking for its nest. I do keep honeybees within 30 feet of where this thing is making its home, and I’m hoping whatever it is, it is no threat to them as real yellow jackets are. Any information you can provide will be sincerely appreciated.

Sounds like a Cicada Killer, Sphecius speciosus, a large (though not as large as you indicate) solitary wasp that preys on cicadas and burrows in the ground. It will not harm the bees.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

23 Responses to Giant Yellow Jacket or Cicada Killer???

  1. D. Dunaway says:

    I have seen 2 of these giant yellow jackets in Houston, Texas within the last month, August, 2014.

  2. Danielle says:

    I was shocked one day when I walked unto my porch and heard a “screaming” sound. I looked and saw a 4inch GIANT yellow-jacket-looking monster attacking a katydid! It kept stinging it and the katydid was “screaming”! I looked to the left and saw that my apple tree had more of these monsters and that they had burrowed into the apple and ate it…leaving just the skin and core. I found a dead one and brought it down to PEEC (Pocono Environmental Education Center) in Dingmans Ferry, Pa and was told it was a GIANT JAPANESE HORNET. I almost literally peed my pants!

    • bugman says:

      Thanks for relaying your chilling account. Invasive species without natural predators can wreak havoc on native creatures.

  3. Gina says:

    I found one dead by my front door about two weeks ago…..and this morning around 8:30am I just saw another fly to the edge of my back porch concrete slab and disappeared. Should I be concern….I have two small dogs and three cats that play out there everyday. And my children play back there with their friends.

    Am I to report this…..I did keep the dead body of the first one I found. Because I wasn’t sure and besides it does look cool and scary. Never seen something like that….

    Baytown, Tx.

    • bugman says:

      Yellow Jackets are social wasps that will defend their nests by stinging any perceived threat.

    • Danielle Waked says:

      Was it one of these GIANT ones? If it really was a Giant Japanese Hornet…a Ranger @ my local environmental center said that their stings/venom can cause necrosis @ the puncture site. If you see a lot of these…you might wanna keep ur animals inside until you can find out FOR SURE if they really ARE giant jap. hornets by a LICENSED PROFESSIONAL. If they are, you might want to find out how they can be “removed” from your property, if a Pest Control Professional can find the nest(s) and DESTROY. I would say the “destroy” word about NATIVE yellow jackets unless they are living on/in your home/backyard…
      but Giant Japanese Hornets are an INVASIVE SPECIES and should not be here. And their stings are very severe. BUGMAN..If I got anything wrong PLEASE let me know! I wanna be informed!

  4. Don Morgan says:

    I saw a yellow jacket that was as wide as a bumble bee and twice as long. It was near fish lake near an old growth forest in eastern Washington. Has anyone seen these bees?

    • J Pavalot says:

      Yes in SE Arizona, along the Gila River in the Safford Valley.. It is also an area where there are many cicada life cycles…(ツ)

    • Danielle Waked says:

      Yes, they are probably GIANT JAPANESE HORNETS. Invasive species.

  5. brittany says:

    Ok I got bit/ stung not sure what they do Lol. But it had climbed up my pant leg at the barn, when I tried to get it out it got me! It hurt way worse then any sting I have ever had! All night my leg stung and burned, now today my leg has a red ring around the site. It is about a 5 in diameter of a red circle.

  6. crystal says:

    We live rural Newville/Carlisle, Pa. Hubby working in his shop late at night, Oct. Giant yellow
    Jackets kept flying in while he waxing his truck. Thought wax smell attracted. One went under his shirt and stung him. Huge welt 5-6″ across w/ red bite in middle. Later bite turned white, welt stayed. It stung his finger when he pulled off him too. An hour later about 100 of them swarmed in on ceiling, he had to leave as they kept attacking. In Am we went out, no sign of them. Hope they didn’t nest inside somewhere. Does anyone know how&where they nest so we can make sure are gone?

  7. Melissa Horton says:

    Tuesday morniing I was out in my garden room and out of nowhere I felt the worst pain ever on my arm and saw a monster yellow jacket. It was huge and stung me through my sleeve. The pain was severe, I took benadryl and used caladryl topically and now it is still hurting…Wed. night. What can help with this pain? The area keeps increasing in size.

  8. Bonnie says:

    Years ago we saw one of these hornets kill a hummingbird near our back porch. It stung the bird repeatedly even after it fell to the ground. My husband killed the hornet and the hummer died in his hands.

    Williamsburg, Virginia

  9. Mary says:

    As a kid I called them Apple Bees but I just learned more about them since they built a nest in the soffit/attic of my neighbors townhouse which is adjacent to my deck. THEY NEVER SLEEP AND ARE ATTRACTED TO LIGHT LIKE AN INSPECT! I LEFT MY SCREEN DOOR OPEN ON MY DECK FOR A SECOND LAST NIGHT AND TEN OF THEM FLEW IN FLYING AROUND MY LIGHT JUST LIKE INSECTS DO! If you turn off the light they will disburse all over the house. Now I call them ZOMBIE BEES – very hard to kill.

  10. Jody Probst says:

    So i have what looks like very large yellow jackets. They’ve built a nest in the eve of my house were they’re getting in and out of the corner that has split open. They’re very busy non stop through out the day. They seem to be docile, but I’m concerned they’re in my attic space. What are they and what should i do about them?

  11. Kathy King says:

    I think I have the cicada killers but they are only seen at night and they are attracted to light. One year there were so many of them that at night they would stick on our screens and I was so afraid that they would find a way to get in. They are about 2 times bigger than a yellow jacket and just as scary. Do I have anything to be worried about? Do they come out only at night or also during the day? I dont see or notice them in the daytime.

  12. Kathy King says:

    I forgot to tell you that I live in western indiana in a little town of Boonville Indiana.

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