July 17, 2009
Hi – my back porch has been taken over by a dozen or so of these large (an inch in length, at least) flying insects since June. They hover a bit, and fly around a single spot, landing occasionally. They seem to fight/try to mate a lot; I’ve found a dead one and a few dead beetles on the patio, so they may be killing each other. They’re most active around noon, and I can’t see if they burrow or go to a nest other times. They haven’t stung anyone, and they seem fairly skittish, but are pretty big and disruptive. They will rest in the same spot frequently, so they’re killable, but I don’t want to kill one with a shovel when there are a dozen more nearby. Only in the last few weeks have more than a few shown up at the same time. They like the tomato and cucumber fl owers. I’ve included a photo on the dead one on the patio and a live one on some grass. Thanks for your help!
You have a colony of Cicada Killer Wasps. Though they are solitary wasps, Cicada Killers sometimes nest in communities. They are basically harmless, and though the females are capable of stinging, we have not gotten any reports of them actually stinging anyone. The males are quite territorial and they will defend an area from other Cicada Killers and also against other intruders, but males are incapable of stinging. Females dig a burrow and provision it with Cicadas that they sting and paralyze and then drag to the burrow. A single egg is laid on each paralyzed Cicada and the hatchling larva will feed on the fresh meat.