Cicada Killer…Killing a cicada!
Location: Morningside Park, Manhattan, New York
August 14, 2011 4:56 pm
I guess this wasp must be one of those Cicada Killers, judging by the fact that it is clearly killing this cicada! I saw this thing flying at me across a busy intersection near Morningside Park. The two bugs together made quite a large mass of buzzing insect, and at first I couldn’t figure out what it was, and just stepped back in fear of getting stung. Then I realized it was this wasp carrying its prey through the air. It landed on a nearby lamppost and I was able to snap a few shots, of which one came out decently. I hope you like it!
Signature: Jenny Jo
Hi Jenny Jo,
Though we have no shortage of Cicada Killers preying upon Cicadas on our site, what makes your letter so intriguing to us is your concise eye witness account as well as your location. It is wonderful to know that both Cicada Killers and Cicadas can be found in Manhattan. Your description of the Cicada Killer and its freight flying through the air and landing on a lamp post is critical to understanding the Cicada Killers instincts. It is highly likely that the load weighs more than the carrier, and getting airborne from the ground is probably very difficult if not highly unlikely. We have read that Cicada Killers climb up a tree or pole so that they do not have to take off from the ground, adding needed altitude to the flight. It expends considerably less energy that way. The fact that the Cicada Killer that you witnessed chose a lamp post as a landing field ensured that it would not have to search for a structure to climb while on the ground on a busy street in Manhattan, ensuring its survival until it reaches the site of its underground nest. Thanks so much for submitting a photo to our site that did not require an identification. As an aside, Annual Cicadas in the genus Tibicen, especially the northern species Tibicen canicularis, is frequently called the Dogday Harvestfly. See BugGuide for verification.
Thanks for the note! The wasp landed near the base of the lamp post
an did, indeed, climb upward after landing. I didn’t have time to
stick around until she took off, though. I love how she is able to
hang onto the texture of the paint with only one foot.