Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Side view of Eastern Cicada Killer in flight showing how wings blur the dark, black color, and the yellow-white coloring to more of the dark-brown and yellow-orange coloring of the European Hornet.  

Females sting, males do not sting. Generally, Eastern Cicada Killers are not aggressive.great

Females dig nest burrows in well-drained soil, often forming large nesting aggregations, and provision nest cells with cicadas they capture and paralyze in nearby trees.

The Eastern Cicada Killer (Sphecius speciosus) has been reported from nearly all states in the United States east of the continental divide, as well as southern Ontario (Canada) to the north and Guatemala, Honduras, and northeastern Mexico to the south

Eastern Cicada Killer wasps are often confused with European Hornets, because of their size. Eastern Cicada Killers have very black markings and bright yellow-white markings. European Hornets have more of an orange color with dark brownish-black markings. The Eastern Cicada body is more slender, compared to the European Hornet body.

Cicada Killers are seen in early Summer about mating time. After mating, the male soon dies, and the female digs a burrow about six inches deep in the soil -- preferably sandy soil. The female designs several cells, or small oval-shaped chambers where eggs will be deposited. A Cicada Killer's burrow often has a characteristic U-shaped dirt pattern around the burrow hole.

Next, the female wasp hunts cicadas, which are a food source for the young wasp larva. the female stings the cicada, which causes paralysis, and brings the paralyzed cicada back to the burrow. Next she places the cicada in one of the cells and lays an egg in the cell. The female wasp will continue hunting cicadas until she has filled the cells of her burrow. She deposits an egg on each cicada body in the cells. The female Cicada Killer Wasp dies soon after depositing her last egg.

Wasp larva hatch from the egg in about two or three days. The larva eats the complete paralyzed cicada in about two weeks -- leaving only the outer shell. Next, the Cicada Killer Wasp larva spins a cocoon and hibernates until the following Spring.

In the Spring, the larva emerges from the cocoon and becomes a pupa (resting stage). An adult Cicada Killer Wasp emerges from the pupa, and digs its way upward and out of the ground to fly and look for a mate.

See also ... 

Eastern Cicada Killer
Sphecius speciosus

Fairfax County Public Schools Cicada Killer