Ground Wasps (?)
July 20, 2009
These insects have moved into my patio area, nesting in the ground under and around my ivy. They are about two inches long, and are quite agressive. Can you help identify them?
Allergic & Afraid

Cicada Killer

Cicada Killer

Dear Allergic and Afraid,
This is a Cicada Killer Wasp.  They are large and they are scary and they are quite territorial.  The males defend territory and the females often nest in colonies.  In the nearly 9 years we have been writing this column online, we have gotten hundreds of letters about Cicada Killers, but we have never gotten a report of them stinging anyone.  Males are incapable of stinging, and females save their venom to paralyze Cicadas so they can provision their burrows to feed the young.
We would never say that they would never sting, as a female can sting, but we do stand by our never receiving any reports of anyone being stung.

One Response to Cicada Killer

  1. TanukiBlue says:

    Sounds a lot like one of my other favorite insects, the Carpenter Bee. I astonished a couple of my college classmates by sneaking up on a patrolling male outside the Union Grove Gallery at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and capturing him in one shot, with my bare hand. “Won’t it sting you?!” they asked, listening to the bee’s consternated buzzing in my curled fist. “Nope, this one’s a male. No stinger. But if you’re another insect flying through his territory, watch out! He’ll nip your head clean off!”

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