Cicada Killers

cicada killers

I’ve lived in Texas for over forty years and this is the first time I’ve ever come across a cicada killer.

Cicada Killers (Sphecius speciosus) is a wasp that can get up to two inches long. Now I know everything is bigger in Texas which might account for the one Greg found in a 4 inch pipe. He says the body reached from one end of the pipe to the other.

I believe him. It’s a little hard not to measure correctly against a known diameter.

A couple of days after he told me this I ran into two more cicada killers. They looked about the size of a hummingbird.

They are huge! And when you see that big stinger you can’t help but worry. Thankfully, the cicada killers are so focused on their prey they go out of their way to avoid humans–such as the first one I encountered. He actually went around me.

As their name implies, cicada killers hunt cicadas. They paralyze the cicada take it down into a deep, burrowed tunnel and deposit an egg inside it.

With as many cicadas as we have, August is our most deafening month. A lot of people try to eradicate the wasp, but we let them be. There’s enough food for everyone.

What’s the biggest insect you’ve ever seen? Is there anything you’re particularly afraid of? My vote is for scorpions, of course. 🙂

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7 Comments

  1. Jenny Schwartz

    Cicadas are noisy, so anything that kills them gets my vote – unless it tries to come inside the house. Creepy-crawlies and flying things should stay outside. Sandgropers is the unofficial name for people who live in my state of Australia. They’re pretty weird insects – hopefully this link works http://museum.wa.gov.au/research/collections/terrestrial-zoology/entomology-insect-collection/entomology-factsheets/sandgropers

  2. Betty

    Cicadas were really bad when we lived in Prescott, Arizona. I didn’t realize there were cicada killers out there. I’m sure the locals would have appreciated that info and brought in some if they could. In our close to 3 years now in the Phoenix area, we had 1 scorpion in our house. Thankfully hubby saw it and disposed of it before it did any damage. It was shortly after we had a new fence put in so we wondered if their home had been destroyed. I’m not fond of any stinging insect, bees, wasps, etc. I’m not allergic, as far as I know, I just don’t relish the thought of potentially getting stung.

    betty

  3. The largest insect I’ve ever seen is the Madagascan Woodlouse crawling up my five year old daughter’s arm in the Natural History Museum. She found it intriguing. Ref Cicada’s I read somewhere that they can be a useful antidote to tinnitus, the one cancelling the other out. Jury’s out whether the cure is worse than the ailment.

  4. Mike: I had to look them up. They look like spiny pill bugs. Our pill bugs are smooth and uninterested in giants. I usually find them dead on my breezeway, slaughtered by scorpions I imagine, who like to leave the carcasses.

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