inch-long flying, burrowing insect
August 12, 2009
we came outside to find a huge mound of dirt between my flagstones. I couldnt imagine what made this. Later in the day I saw the insect. It has wings and six orange legs, antenna, yellow stripes around it’s black body in the back. It was burrowing this hole. Digging in the dirt. Going inside and coming back out and digging backwards with its legs as if it was swimming.
Ken and Lisa Weinstein
North Salem, NY

Cicada Killer

Cicada Killer

Hi Ken and Lisa,
This is a Cicada Killer, a wasp species that preys upon Cicadas.  The female wasp, as evidenced by your photograph, digs a burrow and provisions it with stung and paralyzed Cicadas that form a food source for her brood.  Male Cicada Killers often act in an aggressive manner when defending territory, but male Cicada Killers do not possess a stinger and are not a threat.  The female Cicada Killer does have a stinger, and might sting a human if provoked, but female Cicada Killers are not aggressive and we have never received a substantiated report of a Cicada Killer stinging a person.  The nesting period may last several weeks at which time your visitor will either die or leave the area.

8 Responses to Cicada Killer

  1. kd4rmm says:

    Well I can substantiate a Cicada Killer sting for you, I got stung last night by one as I went out my back door, They hang around my porch light and while bothersome I never pay much attention to them, but last night as I walked out my back door, I guess I had the mis-fortune of having one fly right in my left arm sleeve, I felt a burning sensation on my wrist and thought the fire fell off my cigarette, but then I heard that familiar heavy buzzing and I knew I had been stung, I shook the culprit out as I stepped back into my house only not quick enough as I brought the culprit in the house with me and I followed it to kill it and identify it and it was a Cicada Killer Wasp. Fortunately I do not have a history of allergic reaction to bee and wasp stings. I had a small red mark at the sting site on my wrist and within a few minutes followed by a white area around the sting site and intense pain, within 15 minutes I had an area of redness and swelling about 3 inches wide by 6 inches long on my wrist, the pain was intense unlike I have ever experiences before with other stings by Bees , Wasps or Hornets. An ice cube help some immediate pain relief, I took a Benedryl as an added precaution. it has now been almost 24 hours since the sting the redness and puffiness are still present with an itching sensation, aside from that most all the painful discomfort has subsided, I keep reading its uncommon for them to sting humans I guess I had the misfortune to be one of them. I personally am one who normally can disregard a wasp or bee sting and almost forget the incident in an hour or so, but this Cicada Killer Wasp sting whoa! those suckers are painful, I don’t recommend it.

    • bugman says:

      Thanks for your account, though without a photo of the culprit, we might suspect a different species, like the European Hornet. Vespa crabro, which can be viewed on BugGuide. Like the Cicada Killer, this is a large wasp with yellow markings. We have not heard of Cicada Killers being attracted to lights at night, but we have received information that the European Hornet is attracted to lights. It is also worth noting that Cicada Killers are generally active during the summer, from late June to early August. European Hornets are most visible in the autumn when the colonies have reached their greatest number of inhabitants. We would request that you please take a look at the images of the European Hornet and indicate if that might be the insect that stung you. We would hate to have our readership convict the wrong insect in this case. Thanks in advance.

      • heather says:

        I have an over abundance of Cicada Killers in my yard and they are definitely attracted to the lights on my porch at night. I have killed a total of 5 just because they hover around my coach lights in the evening.
        And i promise they are cicada killers. I can always send in a picture if you would like.

  2. Ross says:

    How do you get rid of them?

  3. Richard E. Engle Sr says:

    I located the nest of European Hornets and hooked up a 20 FT PVC plastic pipe to a shop vacuum and vacuumed them out of their hole for a 24 hour period. They were in the eaves of my home. When the vacuum was full I took the vacuum to an open field several miles away and released them. I know they probably died. But they were after everyone at night as we sat on our patio. I called the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and they advised me to have them exterminated. They wanted $300. to come out. I did it for free. Sorry if I offended anyone. But when you see a 4″ bee on your 4 year old Grand Sons face. Game changes.

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