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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 ¬©

  Western Cicada Killer  
Picture of Western-Cicada-Killer
Picture of Western-Cicada-Killer

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.

Western Cicada Killer Information

Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Common Name: Western Cicada Killer
Scientific Name: Sphecius grandis

Taxonomy Hierarchy

 Arrow graphic Kingdom: Animalia
  Arrow graphic Phylum: Arthropoda
   Arrow graphic Class: Insecta
    Arrow graphic Order: Hymenoptera
     Arrow graphic Family: Sphecidae
      Arrow graphic Genus: Sphecius
       Arrow graphic Species: grandis

Size, Identifying Tags and Territorial Reach

Size (Adult, Length): Size (Adult, Length): 30 mm to 50 mm (1.17 inches to 1.95 inches)
Identifying Colors: orange, yellow, brown
Additional Descriptors: buzzing, flying, ground, large, dots, bands

North American Territorial Reach (Though Not Limited To): Arizona; California; Colorado; Nebraska; Nevada; New Mexico; Oklahoma; Oregon; Texas; Utah; Washington; Wyoming; Mexico

A Note About Territorial Reach: Keep in mind that an insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above. Insects are driven by environmental factors, food supplies and mating patterns and do not nescessarily work within hard-and-fast territorial lines like we humans do.

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