What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Hornet Queen?
Location: Central Idaho near Boise.
July 22, 2011 1:47 pm
I was recently driving on a stretch of highway between Boise ID and small town to the East of Boise and was startled by a loud thump and then a giant hornet looking but that bounced onto the spedometer console. I pulled over and moved the unfortunate insect into my water bottle. My main reason for this is that I have seen these insects around but have not been able to take a good enough picture to submit to your site for examination. I have done a bit of research on my own and I think this is a queen hornet since we have no shortage of yellow jacket hornets in this area. My experience with these creatures is that they are not aggressive. This is such a marvelous specimen its too bad it had to meet such an unfortunate end, but maybe it can serve to educate now. It is about 1.5 inches long and has a wingspan of well over 2 inches as you can see in the pictures. It is a beautiful orange and yellow color and has dark orange tinted wings. Could you shed some enlightenme nt on this bug for me please, my whole office is extremely curious.
Signature: Dave from Idaho

Western Cicada Killer

Hi Dave,
At first we were troubled by what we thought we were going to have to tag as Unnecessary Carnage, but upon reflecting upon the totality of your emailed message, we have decided that this killing was justified in the interest of knowlege, especially since your message acknowledges its “unfortunate end”.  We are a bit sensitive lately because we have seen so many photos of dead Eastern Cicada Killers, Great Golden Digger Wasps, and Katydid Hunters, and we believe this may be only the second photo we have ever received of the Western Cicada Killer,
Sphecius grandis, which we have identified using BugGuide. This magnificent predator surely deserves its species name grandis, and you can see some wonderful photos of living specimens on BugGuide.

Daniel,
I do appreciate your understanding.  The death of this beautiful creature was in no way on purpose.  It flew into the door frame of my car with my window open and caused its own unintended death before it landed on the speedometer console.  I am grateful that is has such a strong carapace so that I was able to retrieve it in whole and not in pieces.  Having lived in Idaho my whole life I and never encountering a cicada I did not know that it was possible to have cicada killers in this state, but further investigation reveals that we do indeed have cicadas in Idaho. Thank you so much for your prompt and informative response.  I will post your links on our internal website so that everyone can know what this was.
Thanks,
Dave

Hi Dave,
Oh, we actually misunderstood.  We thought you put the living Cicada Killer in the water bottle and it died after.  Your followup clarifies that it died upon impact.  Also, Eric Eaton has provided his insight into this creature’s identity.

Eric Eaton confirms genus, but not species
Daniel:
I can’t conclude whether this is Sphecius grandis or S. convallis from this image….it looks squarely between the two given the markings!  I’d need a magnified view of the first two abdominal segments, and even that might not be truly conclusive.
Eric

Daniel,
Upon inspection of the images you have on bugguide and my specimen, along with the information provided by Mr. Eaton, I believe this to be S. srandis [ed. note: grandis perhaps] and not S. convallis.   Although my pictures do not illustrate it well, this does have curved antennal segments, although the torso segments do make it hard to pick.  I’m no expert though, just a curious observer.
Thanks,
Dave

Yes, sorry about that J.  I have posted the link to the bug guide on our internal webpage so people can go look it up themselves.  I am very pleased to learn how many people in the agency have such a keen interest in insects.  I have only ran across 2 people that were not wholly intrigued by this specimen, and those 2 are deathly allergic to bees so it is kind of a phobia for them.

Hi again Dave,
So many people claim to be “deathly allergic” to bees.  It is our belief that it is probably an imagined allergy in many cases just because a bee sting is unpleasant.  A bee sting or a wasp sting generally swells, but nearly dying from a sting would seem to be more of a rarity than the norm.

Daniel,
Upon inspection of the images you have on bugguide and my specimen, along with the information provided by Mr. Eaton, I believe this to be S. srandis [ed. note:  grandis perhaps] and not S. convallis.   Although my pictures do not illustrate it well, this does have curved antennal segments, although the torso segments do make it hard to pick.  I’m no expert though, just a curious observer.
Thanks,
Dave

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Idaho

3 Responses to Western Cicada Killer: Dead in the interest of Knowledge

  1. Ruth Coates says:

    I live in Arizona I have found 5 dead ones they are in pool. They look mighty big since I’m from Calif Sacramento valley.

  2. Ruth Coates says:

    Why are they dying is it the pool water or what 5 of them everyday there is more it’s like they are falling out of air.

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