Issue 12, July 25, 2011

Cicada Killer

Cicada killers have recently emerged in central Illinois. These one and one-half inch long wasps are black and cream with transparent reddish wings. A female cicada killer captures an annual cicada that it paralyzes by stinging, drags it down into her underground burrow, and lays an egg on it. The resulting wasp larva consumes the still living cicada and then pupates for the winter, emerging as an adult wasp the next summer. Females are very unlikely to sting unless handled or stepped on. Males cannot sting but look like the females and maintain aerial territories which they patrol. The males terrorize golfers as the females prefer the edges of sand traps for their one-half inch diameter burrows. Keeping sandboxes covered keeps them out. They also burrow in lawns, preferring bare soil or mulched areas. If they cannot be understood or ignored, carbaryl (Sevin Dust) applied around the burrow entrances will kill the females. Once the females are gone, the males leave. (Phil Nixon)

Phil Nixon

Return to table of contents