What’s In a Name? Part 1 Cicada Killer

These two inch long wasps are scary enough, but the name Cicada Killer makes one think twice about them. They have the less scary proper name of Sphecius speciosus. The giant wasp does kill cicadas, but otherwise ignores humans.  I must have dozens of them this year.  They fly close to the ground and I can stand among them as the large females circle around.

The calls from cicadas have lessened as the female Cicada Killers collect them to take into the 10 inch tunnels that are being dug in all my beds.  Meanwhile, the males fly around and spar with each other and mate with the females.

I have found many more of these sandy nests around the yard this year compared to previous years.  A few times I have seen a female go into a tunnel and once saw a wasp dive into the nest with a cicada which they lay their eggs on to feed their larva. While these wasps are pretty chill, I did see one chase a hummingbird away from her territory. Sadly, these big gals only live 60 to 75 days and their only goal in life is to reproduce.

I checked through my blog and realized I have posted quite a few times on these wasps.  Check out the links if you would like more information on these fascinating creatures.

14 Comments on “What’s In a Name? Part 1 Cicada Killer”

  1. Anonymous says:


  2. I was afraid of these until I learned about them. Years ago there was a nest at the end of the sliding board in our play yard. It was a teachable event. Both my children love nature because they know nature.

    • That is a scary place for the nest when you don’t know what they are. I’m from a different part of the country and the Cicada Killers were just one more scary thing, until I found that just like giant tree roaches, they won’t hurt you.

  3. shoreacres says:

    I’m glad I got to see some of these before moving to my new place. They scared me to death when I first encountered them; after I learned what they were (that is, not a threat) it was fun to watch them, with or without cicadas.

    I subscribe to a newsletter from Entymology Today, and particularly enjoyed this recent article about them.

  4. Misti says:

    Must be a big year for them as I’ve noticed a few here and a few friends have asked what they were. I’ll have to look for their tunnels!

  5. Tina says:

    I know they’re around here, but I never see them. They are scary looking, but, chasing hummingbirds aside, they aren’t dangerous. Thanks for posting this!

  6. carol says:

    I must confess, I destroy every one of these nest holes I find in my yard and this year that’s quite a few. I always root for the cicadas.

  7. I am still trying to sort out bees from taking a pollinator class this summer. There are a lot of cicadas here currently – I must have some killers somewhere. I will keep an eye out, thanks for the pictures.

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