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Don't Panic! They're Just Cicada Killer Wasps: Home

You have probably seen - and heard! - these 2" long insects buzzing around campus during the summer months. They look intimidating, but are actually quite harmless.

Cicada Killers

You have probably seen - and heard! - these 2" long insects buzzing around campus during the summer months. They look intimidating, but are actually quite harmless. Below are some quick facts and resources to learn more about these often misunderstood creatures.

Quick Facts

  • Unless you are a cicada, they are harmless (if you don't poke them). Only females can sting
  • Adults eat nectar, so they pollinate plants and flowers just like bees
  • They are solitary digger wasps, meaning they burrow into the ground where their larvae feast on captured cicadas (below is a female digging a burrow)

 

Xavier Library Resources

eBooks

Nardi, J. B. (2007). Life in the soil: a guide for naturalists and gardeners. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. https://xplore.xavier.edu/record=b2046231
New, T. R. (2012). Hymenoptera and conservation. Chichester, West Sussex, UK; Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. https://xplore.xavier.edu/record=b2086387
 

Academic Articles

Alcock, J. (2016). Male size and territoriality in the cicada killer wasp Sphecius speciosus (Hymenoptera: Crabronidae). Journal of Natural History, 50(23–24), 1427–1432. http://libproxy.xu.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=agr&AN=IND605192849&site=eds-live&scope=site
Coelho, J. R. (1998). An acoustical and physiological analysis of buzzing in cicada killer wasps (Sphecius speciosus ). Journal of Comparative Physiology A, 183(6), 745–751. http://libproxy.xu.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=agr&AN=IND21989956&site=eds-live&scope=site
Coelho, Joseph R., & Holliday, C. W. (2008). The effect of hind-tibial spurs on digging rate in female eastern cicada killers. Ecological Entomology, 33(3), 403–407. http://libproxy.xu.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=agr&AN=IND44051637&site=eds-live&scope=site
Eason, P. K., Cobbs, G. A., & Trinca, K. G. (1999). The use of landmarks to define territorial boundaries. Animal Behaviour, 58(1), 85–91. http://libproxy.xu.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edswsc&AN=000081982700010&site=eds-live&scope=site
Jon M. Hastings, Charles W. Holliday, & Joseph R. Coelho. (2008). Body Size Relationship between Sphecius Speciosus (Hymenoptera: Crabronidae) and Their Prey: Prey Size Determines Wasp Size. The Florida Entomologist, (4), 657. http://libproxy.xu.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsjsr&AN=edsjsr.25434885&site=eds-live&scope=site
Lin, N. (1963). Territorial Behavior in the Cicada Killer Wasp Sphecius Speciosus (Drury) (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae). I. Behaviour, 20(1), 115–133. http://libproxy.xu.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsjsr&AN=edsjsr.4533027&site=eds-live&scope=site

Campus Sightings

Digital Initiatives Librarian

Christian Sheehy's picture
Christian Sheehy
Contact:
McDonald Library 104
(513) 745-2028
Website