Cicada killers are beneficial, but sting


I am looking at an image on the front page of the July 18 issue of The Daily Sun taken by Ted Escobar.

The insect in the image is one of two species of cicada killer (Sphecius spp) found here in the Pacific Northwest and, fortunately, not a “mutant Ninja yellowjacket.”

Cicada killers are large, solitary wasps that live in the soil and not in colonies or nests like yellowjackets.

Cicada killers are not aggressive and considered to be beneficial insect predators — unless you happen to be a grass cicada insect. Cicada killers hunt, sting and paralyze cicadas, carry the paralyzed host to their underground lair, and then lay an egg or two next to the host.

The grubs hatch from the eggs and feed on the paralyzed cicada.

Beware, cicada killers can sting humans, but do so only in self- defense.

Michael Bush, WSU Extension entomologist


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