Cicada Killer Wasps in Texas

Cicada Killer Wasp Picture
photo courtesy
Ohio State University

At an inch and a half long, cicada killer wasps are frightening to see, but are they really harmful to humans?

An article in the Galveston County Daily News says that even though it may seem cicada killer wasps would have a powerful sting and are to be feared, in fact, they are beneficial to humans by controlling the population of cicadas which are the food required by young wasps.

Dr. William Johnson states that the male wasp actually has no ability to sting and the female wasp has rarely been known to use its powerful stinger on humans. The only reason it may sting is to kill cicadas so that its young can feast.

Cicadas are not only noisy but can do small amounts of damage to a tree on which they lay their eggs. The cicada killer wasp lives in these areas, too – better to be closer to the food.

“Unlike hornets, yellow jackets and paper wasps, which are social insects living in large colonies, cicada killers are considered solitary wasps. However, several individuals are often found within a small area, giving the impression that there is a single nest.”

The female wasp ends up having to do the dirty work and dig the nest. With a nest which can be as large as 10 inches by 1/2 inch wide, a mound of dirt typically appears. Inside the nest are chambers in which the young are hatched.

All in all, the cicada killer wasp is not to be feared, and should be thought of as a beneficial part of the local ecosystem – even if it’s scary looking!

August 28, 2008 – 8:03 am

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