• By Phyllis B. Smith
  • Posted Friday, August 21, 2020

Invasion of the Cicada Killers!

Over the last several weeks reports of extremely large “hornets” have been coming into our office. Don’t worry, North Carolina has yet to be invaded by “murder hornets”. Instead, we have entered the reproductive season for the cicada killer wasp, (Sphecius speciosus) a native species that can reach up to 2-inches in length! Males can appear quite aggressive in defending their territory, but are unable to sting. Females use their stingers for egg-laying and for capturing cicadas and will rarely sting for defense unless provoked. Solitary females lay eggs in self-constructed burrows in the soil, and then place paralyzed (but still living) cicadas alongside the eggs. The eggs soon soon hatch into larvae that feed on the helpless cicadas. Because large concentrations of cicadas can sometimes damage trees, the cicada killer wasp provides a beneficial role in the ecosystem by keeping cicada populations in check. Read more about these interesting insects in the NC State publication Cicada Killer Wasps in Turf.

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