Cicada Killer

This wasp gets its common name from the fact that it hunts and provisions each of its nest cells with a cicada (Homoptera: Cicadidae) as food for its young. These wasps can become an urban nuisance pest when they select a bare area around a structure as a nesting site. People become alarmed because they look like giant yellowjackets. In the United States, they are found east of the Rocky Mountains.

Large, about 1-1 5/8” (25-40 mm) long; hairs (setae) unbranched. Color black to rusty with yellowish markings on 1st 3 abdominal segments. Thorax with pronotum short, collarlike, not reaching tegula (scalelike structure at base of front wing); front wing with 3 submarginal cells, 2nd squarish; middle tibia 2 apical spurs.

Typically areas of bare ground are used as nesting sites. Many individuals may use the same general area for nesting purposed. While digging their burror, the females excavate a sizeable pile of soil which can be disfiguring to a lawn.

Females in general will not sting unless handled or stepped on, such as by barefooted children. Males will buzz people but cannot sting.

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