Western Cicada Killer (Sphecius grandis)
Detailing the identifying qualities of the Western Cicada Killer, including physical features and territorial reach.
Updated: 6/12/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The robust body and large size of a Western Cicada Killer can alarm anyone recognizing it as a wasp, but its focus is on the mid-air raids that will feed its young.
Western Cicada Killers are one of four type of Cicada Killers. These large wasps are efficient hunters of the loud, plentiful, and nutritious cicadas that buzz through summertime. They attack flying cicadas, a noisy battle that can sometimes be heard by the humans below. Once captured, the cicadas are placed near a fertilized egg where it will serve as food for the emerging larva. Females dig their nests in the ground, creating a labyrinth of tunnels, each one ending with an egg and its meal. The earth mounds at the entrance and may be mistaken for a mole or chipmunk hole. Look for these nests near areas laden with cicadas.
Western Cicada Killers are native to the western U.S. states and Mexico. Though adult females kill cicadas for their offspring, male and female adults drink nectar.