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.


Digging Cicada Hunter

I was working in a bed and noticed something had been digging holes. Of course, I immediately blamed the squirrels for messing up my garden.

Then I hear a loud buzzing sound.  A three inch Cicada Hunter flew to the ground with a cicada in its clutches and popped down the hole before I could get my phone to snap a photo.  I did get the tail end of the cicada being dragged into the nest.

Even though the wasp is huge, I can’t believe the amount of dirt it dug. The wasp threw out enough soil to reach about 12 inches from the hole.  The Killer Wasp is a very impressive excavator.

 


Garden Happenings

There is nothing like starting the day being greeted by a happy Mexican Sunflower drenched in morning sunlight.

 

 

In my wooded area I came across ten or more Cicada Hunters.  They look like the world’s largest bees, but  they didn’t pay any attention to me and I was able to stand among them to snap a photo.  In the front yard I found a Rosy Wolf Snail shell.  It was a large one and the snail probably lived a long life.

 

There has been a new hatching of baby lizards and they are everywhere.  The other night when we arrived home in the dark, we were first greeted by a juvenile toad and in the corner of the brick pillar, a Carolina Wren was tucked away for the night.  I haven’t gotten a photo this year, but Pileated Woodpeckers have been announcing their arrival to the garden.

Why and what did this?  Some critter made a neat little path through my Balsam Impatiens bed.  It is always hard to leave the the garden and after some time away, the weeds took over a bed.

And now the weird and amazing.  I found mushrooms growing in a bag of compost.  I had planned to use it months ago, it never happened and the mushrooms grew.  Plants just can’t be stopped.


The Hunter and the Hunted

This big wasp has been hanging around the garden.  It is a Cicada Killer Wasp.  As its name implies, it hunts and eats Cicadas.

Within a day, I spotted this Cicada and so far the Killer Wasp did not find it.

This large bug has a face that only its mother could love, but not scary enough to keep from being hunted by the Killer Wasp.