Cicada Killer (Sphecius speciosus)
Detailing the identifying qualities of the Cicada Killer, including physical features and territorial reach.
Updated: 2/15/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The large Cicada Killer is a wasp that very rarely attacks humans, however, dispatching Cicadas may be its favorite pastime.
Yellow and Black Cicada Killers earned their common name for good reason. This large wasp hunts down Cicadas in mid-air and attacks them while flying. The Cicada may buzz and try to escape, but if the Cicada Killer catches hold of it, a quick sting immobilizes the Cicada, and both fly back to wasp's nest for offspring to consume. Adult Cicada Killers drink flower nectar. The larger the population of Cicadas in an area, the more likely you will see Cicada Killers taking them down.
The fast and hefty Cicada Killer looks intimidating, but it rarely stings people who leave it alone. They are sometimes considered a nuisance because they build their nests in the ground, making it difficult to play outside or mow the lawn in that area. The nests are sometimes mistaken for small animal burrows, but wasp activity by the hole should make it apparent that a wide berth is prudent. They are mostly seen in the summer when females work together to dig out nests underground before laying eggs in the tunnels.