Currently viewing the category: "Cicada Killer Wasps"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Flying bee- or hornet-like insect
Location: Pennsylvania (Philadelphia suburbs)
July 21, 2017 6:48 am
These bugs (2-3) fly around my front lawn during the day. They don’t seem aggressive; I just typically walk trough them if they’re flying in my path. They are rather large and bigger (and probably less segmented) than a bee or hornet would be.
Signature: Ken

Cicada Killer

Dear Ken,
This large wasp is a Cicada Killer, and your submission is our first report of the season.  People fear Cicada Killers because of their size and behavior.  Male Cicada Killers are harmless as they cannot sting, but they will patrol an area favorable for nesting and chase other creatures away.  Female Cicada Killers sting and paralyze Cicadas to feed the larva that develop in underground burrows.  Though they are capable of stinging, the female Cicada Killer is not aggressive and she does not defend her nest. 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Hornet / Wasp
Location: Grapevine Texas
August 30, 2016 4:13 pm
Found these 3 on my back patio and haven’t luck figuring out what they are. I have found similar looking ones but the sizes are always listed quite a bit smaller than these bad boys.
Signature: – Tegan

Cicada Killer Carnage

Cicada Killers found Dead

Dear Tegan,
Looking at your image of three dead Cicada Killers saddens us.  Cicada Killers are large and scary looking, but they are solitary wasps that are not aggressive towards people.  Cicada Killers prey upon Cicadas.  The female Cicada Killer stings and paralyzes her prey, which she then drags back to her subterranean nest to provide food for her brood.  We hope you will learn to tolerate Cicada Killers in the future.

Thank you for the info Daniel!  If it makes you feel better I did not kill them.  I came home from a trip and they had gotten through a hole in my screened in patio and were unable to escape.  Thanks again for taking the time to look at this!!!
– Tegan

Thanks for letting us know that this was NOT Unnecessary Carnage.

I won’t lie, they freaked me out a bit when I found them as I have never encountered wasps that big.  Glad to know I am not their prey 🙂  Hole in the screen is patched so hopefully it won’t happen again!  Thanks again for taking the time!!

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Nice Cicada-killer wasp with prey
Location: Charlottesville, Virginia, US
August 11, 2016 3:38 pm
I actually have two of these in front of my door — one burrow is beneath a corner of my front walk, the other is apparently under a nearby holly tree. Here’s a pic I got of the former carrying a cicada
Signature: Dave H,

Cicada Killer with Prey

Cicada Killer with Prey

Dear Dave,
You don’t know how refreshing it is for us to receive an image of a Cicada Killer with its prey that we can tag with Food Chain as opposed to tagging it with Unnecessary Carnage since we receive so many images of dead Cicada Killers.  So many people have irrational fears about Cicada Killers, and we concur that they are large and quite formidable looking, but as the host to two underground broods, we would love to have you write back so we can verify to our readership that Cicada Killers are not aggressive toward humans.

A Facebook Comment from Wanda
In all my years of weeding and tending my Rain Garden, I have never – repeat never – been approached or threatened by a Cicada Killer Wasp, even those who were larger than my thumb! I can safely say the same for the other wasps in my garden: Northern Paper, Great Black, Great Golden Digger, Potter and others. They are all more interested in the nectar from the plants, especially the milkweed. I walk past them, they fly past me as I work, they don’t even land on me. I welcome them for the pollinating work they do.

Dave H. confirms Cicada Killer Docility
Subject: Re:  Indeed, Cicada-killers are quite mellow
August 12, 2016 11:42 am
I’ve watched them often as I stood outside smoking,  and they’ve never even made a warning swoop toward me.   Surely one of the biggest wasps most folks will encounter, but also one of the least dangerous.
While I’m at it, I just wanted to compliment that picture of a molting cicada — that one is truly spectacular, and the little girl in the background just underlines the wonder of the moment.
Signature: Dave Harmon

We agree that it is a wonderful image Dave.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Large flying black and yellow insect
Location: Hamilton OH
August 6, 2016 8:38 am
Found this flying around our wood deck mid morning on Aug 6, 2016. My husband knocked it down with a flyswatter and trapped it in a peanut butter jar. Our five grandkids are fascinated and want to know what type of insect it is. My husband wants to know if it will destroy our deck.
Hope you can help!
Signature: T. Spears

Cicada Killer

Cicada Killer

Dear T. Spears,
Your deck is safe from this Cicada Killer Wasp, a non-aggressive species that will basically ignore humans, though humans often kill them out of irrational fears.  The female Cicada Killer will excavate an underground nest that she provisions with paralyzed Cicadas that provide a living source of fresh meat for her growing brood.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Rather large bee?
Location: Bayville, New Jersey
July 20, 2016 8:28 am
I’d like to know what this is.
Signature: Naomi

Cicada Killer

Cicada Killer

Dear Naomi,
This is a Cicada Killer, a large, non-aggressive, solitary wasp that hunts Cicadas.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Large Wasp ID
Location: Southeastern Washington State
July 9, 2016 12:32 pm
First time these 2″ monsters in South Eastern Washington State. Attracted to all bushes and trees, with or without fruit or flowers. attracted to water also
Signature: Tracey- Washington State

Western Cicada Killer Carnage

Western Cicada Killer Carnage

Dear Tracey,
No insect winds up on our Unnecessary Carnage page more than the Eastern Cicada Killer, because these solitary wasps are large and frightening looking, however they are not aggressive, and though a female is capable of stinging, they do not seem at all interested in stinging people.  You have submitted an image of the Eastern Cicada Killer’s western cousin, the Western Cicada Killer, and we don’t generally get Unnecessary Carnage images of the Western Cicada Killer because we just get far fewer images of them.  Like the eastern cousin, the Western Cicada Killer is a solitary wasp and it is not aggressive.  It was likely searching your trees and bushes for Cicadas because female Cicada Killers sting and paralyze Cicadas, and then drag them back to the nest they have constructed underground.  The female lays an egg on the paralyzed Cicada which then acts as food for the developing larva.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination