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Cicada Killers of New England

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Cicada Killers of New England

New England Cicada Killer Sphecius speciosus

This year I discovered the very fascinating Cicada Killer Wasps (Sphecius speciosus) here in Massachusetts. If you have been reading the blogs for this year, you know about all the information that I have collected on these amazing insects.

While seeking further knowledge on Cicada Killer wasps I found Professor Chuck Holliday from Lafayette College in Pennsylvania who has been studying these insects for several years now. I firmly believe in helping others out in their various fields of study especially in the sciences and particularly in the field of Entomology. After all, this web site would not be here if it wasn't for the help of others.

So I always like to lend a hand wherever and whenever I can. I, in turn, seek your help as well so we can help Professor Chuck Holliday.

The Cicada Killer Wasp Species in New England

It is believed that there is only one species here in our part of the Northern United States and that is the Sphecius speciosus species of Cicada Killer wasps. You can easily recognize these wasps by their unique size. The males average anywhere from an inch to an inch and a quarter while the females can be anywhere from an inch and a quarter to two inches long. Below are some pictures of Cicada Killer Wasps:

What Do They Do?

The males stake out little areas of territory and defend it from all other males. At the same time, they attempt to mate with a female should one enter into its defended area.

Cicada killer female.Once mated, the female digs a series of underground burrows. Each burrow can have many chambers branching off in different directions. Cicada killer adults do not feed on Cicadas, they actually feed on nectar until it is time to mate. These burrows are for a female Cicada Killer wasp's larva. Once the burrow is completed, it goes out and hunts for a Cicada. The female will sting a Cicada which only paralizes it and then flies back with it to the burrow. It will then lay one egg on the cicada. The egg will then hatch and the larva will feed on the cicada. Even though the cicada is only paralized, it is very much alive! Once the larva has eaten the cicada it will pupate over the long winter and emerge in early July as a fully formed adult cicada killer.

Mom Decides Who Will be a Boy and Who Will be a Girl

Female Cicada Killer waspBefore the female Cicada Killer hunts Cicadas, it must decide whether it wants a male or a female cicada killer. If it wants a female, then the egg it is carrying is injected with sperm. Then the female Cicada Killer will then obtain two cicadas for the egg injected with the sperm to feed upon when it hatches.

If the female wants the egg it is carrying to be male, it will not inject it with sperm and only hunt for one cicada for the male cicada killer larva to feed upon.

Once a larva has one or two Cicadas to feed on the female will then seal the chamber inside the burrow and then dig another chamber. One Cicada Killer can catch as many as 16 total cicadas, one or two for each larva and may dig as many burrows for each.

These Are Wasps! Should I Be Afraid?

Male Cicada Killer wasp.Not at all. These wasps despite their intimidating appearance are really quite docile. I have laid down on my stomach in the middle of a lek to film a cicada killer female digging a burrow. They were flying all around me and I was never attacked. I have even handled male and female wasps with my hands and I was never stung.

Note: A lek is a gathering place of a species, specifically for males to display and attract females for breeding.

However, I wouldn't suggest you sit on one or try to crush one with your hands because then they may sting. Especially the females because they are known to have stingers (for stinging Cicadas) but the males do not have stingers. You do not have anything to fear from these Cicada Killer wasps.

Cicada Killer Mating Frenzy.

Mating Cicada Killers.Sometimes the competition to mate with a female cicada killer among males can be fierce as evidenced by the thumbnail to the left. While surveying cicadas at a Swansea, MA cemetery, I heard a helluva ruckous going on in the grass that sounded like a bunch of angry bees and what I was able to discover was just a big ball of male cicada killers rolling and tumbling around in the grass.

Ball of cicada killers.From what I learned from Professor Chuck Holliday, I knew that somewhere under that pile of male cicada killers was a female that all these males were trying to mate with. This being my third year in studying these insects this was the first time that I have witnessed this amazing phenomenon. It was like a bunch of 10 year olds all in a giant "pig-pile". Some males would fly off but only to be replaced by other males. Other males would fly away only to return at a different angle to try to gain a better purchase on the female.

Mating Cicada Killers - click to play movie.I watched these guys for about 30 minutes then decided to drive around. I was gone for about an hour. When I returned, the mating frenzy was over. I would assume that one of the males was successful in mating with the female. I even noted several different male and female cicada killers that were flying around encopula (connected via the genetalia). Click the thumbnail to the left to watch a brief movie of the frenzy and the competition involved between all these males as they try to mate with the female.

These Wasps ARE NOT Your Enemy.

I get a lot of email from people who are only too happy to provide data about cicada killers that they have at their locations. But most after providing this information via the online form, ask how to get rid of them?

First of all, I'm not about the eradication of Cicada Killers, I'm about their study and observing their behavior. They are truly an amazing insect so please do not ask how to get rid of them. You might as well ask me the best method to kill a baby seal. It just isn't going to happen.

To prove my point as to this wasp's docile nature, take a look at this first photo. I offered this male cicada killer my finger to perch on. It happily sat there for at least 10 seconds then went off to chase another male

Cicada Killer MaleI even mustered up enough courage to pick up that ball of mating cicada killers knowing full well that there was a female mixed in there somewhere. But still, I never had a problem. Even with this ball of cicada killers in my hand, males were still coming and going, landing right in my hand to try to get in on the action. Click the thumbnails below for a closer look.

Determining Male from Female Cicada Killers.

One obvious way to determine a male cicada killer from a female is the female's comparatively larger size. However according to professor Chuck Holliday there are several ways in determining males from females and I quote:

"You can tell females from males by the large pair of spurs at the junction of tibia and tarsus on the last pair of legs on the females only. They also have one less segment in their antennae and abdomens than the males do, but this is harder to see. About 10% of females are in the males size range, but 90% are larger than males."

Cicada Killer female large spurs.So taking the large size out of the equation to allow for those 10% of females that fall into the size range of males, that leaves for a sure identifying factor the spurs at the junction of tibia and tarsus as Chuck mentions above. Click the thumbnail to the left to note the large size spurs on a female. Even in this picture this particular female is extremely larger than its male counterparts.

Cicada Killer Male small spurs. Find the cicada killer female in this image.The male does indeed have small spurs compared to the female. Click the thumbnail to the right for a closer view. It is believed that the female's larger spurs may help it in moving the dirt around during the excavation of a burrow. I also believe that these larger spurs may actually aid the female cicada killer in carrying the stung and paralyzed cicada prize.

Let the Females do the Work.

Cicada killer females have proven themselves to be quite useful when doing distribution work on the cicadas of New England. Especially when access to lands are extremely limited due to "No Trespassing" and "Private Property" signs everywhere. Using cicada killer females as a means for obtaining cicada voucher specimens in a given area is an excellent fall-back plan if you can find them. Typically large sunny open areas with tall trees nearby and sandy soil for digging burrows seems to be ideal.

In the images below, it would seem that these cicada killers were bringing in nothing but Tibicen lyricen cicadas which proved somewhat what I was hearing calling in the trees. What I found really strange was that these females were bringing in only male Tibicen lyricen cicadas. Out of 5 specimens that I snatched away from the females, all 5 were male.

Note that one of the males (top right) is actually only a few hours from the teneral stage. I have noted this previously where a cicada killer female actually took a paralyzed T. canicularis teneral no more than an hour from completing the molting process.

All 5 Male Tibicen lryicen cicadas.You can see the differences in color patterns and varying degrees of pruinosity in the above 5 specimens. Even in the group photo to the right. Click the thumbnail to enlarge. It's these slight morphogical differences which often confuse people greatly when attempting to identify cicada species. However, in all 5 photos above, there are two constants which help in keying the cicadas as T. lyricen and that is that the pronotal collars are all black and there is the black medial band that runs the entire length of the underside of the abdomen.

What Can I Do?

Massachusetts Cicadas is trying to compile a distribution map of all cicada species in the United States with a particular focus on the Cicadas of New England. This of course, one might assume is a huge undertaking. But with the inception of the World Wide Web which makes communication and the seeking of information virtually instantaneous it is a great time for everyone who is online to be able to contribute because it can bring everyone together with a mere click of a mouse.

If you spot a Cicada Killer, all you need to do is report it by filling out the online form with the following information:

The county you saw them in.
The town or city you saw them in.
Actual address of the Cicada Killers.
Time of day.
Date you saw them.
Pictures of them if possible.
If possible cicada specimens taken by Cicada Killer females.

What Parts of New England Are Needed?

Basically all over New England. If a valid report of a cicada killer is spotted complete with burrows then Massachusetts Cicadas would like the opportunity to visit the site location in order to ascertain cicada species in the area. There are areas of New England where Cicada and Cicada Killer information is extremely lacking especially in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. So any cicadas or cicada killer information that you may stumble upon from these three states would be especially appreciated.

If a Cicada Killer May Sting, How the Heck Do I Get A Cicada Away From One?

First of all, I have never known a female Cicada Killer to sting anyone. You would probably have to catch them with your hands and crush them in order to be stung at least by the females. But I feel it is better to be safe than sorry. The following is an outline of how you can go about collecting cicada specimens from Cicada Killers:

  • First, locate active Cicada Killer burrows with Cicada Killers still in them.
  • Watch closely and wait for the females to fly off to hunt for cicadas.
  • Some will not fly off right away, they will orient themselves by making a series of low flights around their burrows just so they know where it is in relation to other burrows. They eventually make wider and wider turns away from the burrows then fly back to them. They may do this several times before they fly off.
  • Now that they are gone, put a stick or two down the burrows' entrance. You may need two sticks because the entrances may be large to allow the cicada to be dragged down.
  • After about 1/2 hour to an hour some of the Cicada Killers will come back to their burrows with cicadas. Some others won't. For the ones that come back without cicadas, simply remove the sticks and let them enter.
  • The ones that do will wonder what the heck happened to their entrances and struggle to get their cicadas down the burrow.
  • During all the confusion, grab the cicadas by the wing tips and gently pull them away from each Cicada Killer along the ground. Don't be distressed if the Cicada Killer female makes a lot of mad "buzzing" type noises, it's all a bluff. Eventually she will let go. Make sure that you grab the cicada by the wing tips and drag it along the ground in the opposite direction that the Cicada Killer will be pulling it almost like playing tug-of-war. You have to be quick because they can move fast with a cicada in their possession.
  • I have also been successfull in gently batting the cicada away from Cicada Killers. You can try this method too. But once you grab the cicada after batting it away, walk away from the Cicada Killer's burrow. She will continue to look for the cicada but if you aren't in the general area of her burrow, then you will be fine. At some point however, you may have to remove the stick so that she may inspect her burrow before she flies off again to hunt for another cicada to replace the one you just stole.

If you can help provide this information it will be greatly appreciated and you will have our heart-felt thanks.

Date Posted: 2005-07-21 Comments: (78) Show CommentsHide Comments


Posted By: Courtney Wasacz | On: 2011-06-21 | Website:

Wow. These pics are awesome. I love cicada killers and cannot wait for them to come back this summer. It should be only a couple more weeks. I have a paralyzing fear of bees and wasps, but not these guys. At first, I was terrified because I've never seen them before until we moved to Indiana a few years ago, but now I look forward to their stay. There was one male in particular that I made friends with. He would buzz around me and eventually I taught him how to land on the stick ... we would do this trick for hours at a time. I still am afraid to put it in my hand, but I did pet it while it rested on the stick. They are awesome little creatures who are just gorgeous. I love their little faces ... they almost look human. I am very excited for them to come again, so I just had to look them up and see some pictures :) Your site is great!!!

Posted By: Massachusetts Cicadas | On: 2011-06-21 | Website:

Hi Courtney,

Glad you like cicada killers. Be sure to send in your photos when they arrive. Also, if possible try to get photos of Female Cicada Killers with paralyzed cicadas. We'd love to add them to the database.

Posted By: Courtney | On: 2011-07-15 | Website:

This year, there are about 30 or more cicada killers instead of the usual 6 or 7. It's a little intimidating because they are clustered in a small area right by my garage door. She already has about ten burrows dug so far. It is hard to get up close to them because of the large amount this year. It it common for the number of cicada killers to get larger every year? I've only lived here in Indiana for four years, but the first summer in this house, there were just a handful of them. Thanks!!!

Posted By: Massachusetts Cicadas | On: 2011-07-15 | Website:

Hi Courtney,

Thanks for sending in your observations. The reason there is probably more this year than last year is because what you are seeing are the offspring from the eggs that the females laid the previous year.

Don't be surprised if you get even more next year.

However, I wouldn't worry about it. As the above article demonstrates, they are harmless and won't bother you. Again, the mails have no stingers and the females are non-aggressive.

Keep me posted about your observations.

Posted By: Courtney | On: 2011-07-15 | Website:

Well, they are mating like crazy already. I will try to get some up close photos of them for you. Even if there are more than a hundred of them, I could never exterminate them. They are gorgeous little creatures, and yes, they are harmless ... at least to us, but my lawn is a different story :) I walk right through their infestation and it's kind of fun. The males bounce off my body. Two are them are commonly sticking together and flying away together. I'm assuming they're mating ... is that right? I did see a huge pile of them on the ground and I'm assuming the female was under that big pile. Thanks for the info ...

Posted By: Massachusetts Cicadas | On: 2011-07-18 | Website:

Hi Courtney,

Sorry for the delay in responding. You are correct, the males kind of all gang-up on the females. What we need for you to do now is to try to steal some cicadas away from the female cicada killers. You have to be quick though. Please get photos and such.

Posted By: Massachusetts Cicadas | On: 2011-07-18 | Website:

On second thought Courtney, to make it easier on you to steal cicada killers from females, you can always put a stick about 1/2 inch in diameter in the borrow entrances. This way, the female cicada killers will drop the cicada to investigate then you can steal the cicada away and then remove the stick.

Posted By: Scott | On: 2011-07-26 | Website:

i have just one cicada killer around my house and i only ever saw them this year so i think they are just starting to come around where i live (PA)and i was just wondering if you think i might see anymore next year

Posted By: Massachusetts Cicadas | On: 2011-07-26 | Website:

Hi Scott,

First I think it is important to determine if the cicada killer wasp that you are seeing this year is in fact a female. If it is then there should be a burrow nearby. Try to find a mound of dirt in your yard. Look along walkways especially. Find the burrow first. Chances are if there is one there will be others. It may take several years for a new lek to establish itself so you never know.

Good luck.

Posted By: Scott | On: 2011-07-27 | Website:

thank you for your response i am pleased to have this beautiful cicada killer at my house :)

Posted By: jeff tully | On: 2011-08-04 | Website: cicada killers of new england

i have over twenty burrows in my front yard. they are huge. some have white purple bands

Posted By: Massachusetts Cicadas | On: 2011-08-04 | Website:

Hi Jeff,

If you believe that you have cicada killer wasps. Be sure to snap a few photos...especially of the ones with the white purple bands.

You can report your sighting along with your photos by clicking on the link in the upper right-hand column where it says "Report a Cicada or Cicada Killer Wasp"


Posted By: Courtney | On: 2011-08-04 | Website:

There are approximately 25 burrows in a small grassy area leading to my garage. I didn't get any photographs this year as the amount of wasps was greatly increased and the wasps seemed a little more aggressive than in past years. The males were dive-bombing my legs and torso. We counted about 35 wasps at one time, which is a dramatic increase from the 4 or 5 we had in 2006 and the 7 or so we had last year. They were mating like crazy though. I am afraid what next summer holds in store for us. Where are the purple bands located? I'll definitely look for them. Thanks!!!

Posted By: Massachusetts Cicadas | On: 2011-08-04 | Website:

Hi Courtney,

Thanks for the update. Your area really sounds like a hot spot. I think it may be even larger next year. Males by their nature, are aggressive but I assure you it's all "bark" and no "bite". Males do not have the capability to sting.

Posted By: Steve | On: 2011-08-10 | Website:

Hello, I live in Rehoboth in southwestern MA. Today while doing yard work i had to turn my wheelbarrel unside down, so i could lubricate the wheels. I noticed the shells of four (4) enormous Cicada, never seen anything like it before. These things were 2 inches long. My question is are Cicada harmful to humans or structures (homes)?



Posted By: Massachusetts Cicadas | On: 2011-08-10 | Website:

Hi Steve,

Cicadas are harmless to homes and structures. I would be very interested in seeing photographs of the two inch long cicada shells. If you're so inclined please and you have photos, you can always fill out the form located here:

Just copy and paste the web address in your browser's address bar.

Posted By: W Tervin | On: 2012-07-16 | Website:

I have been stung by wasps, yellow jackets, several different species of bee, but none ever hurt like a cicada killer wasp that bit me this PM. I was pulling weeds from the flowers when he/she came out of a hole in the ground and got me on my little finger. That was over an hour ago and it still hurts, not as much, but it hurts!!

Posted By: Massachusetts Cicadas | On: 2012-07-16 | Website:

Hi there,

I am really amazed that you were stung by a cicada killer wasp. First off the males have now stingers so are not capable of stinging and females are really docile. Are you sure its a cicada killer wasp? There are plenty of ground burrowing wasps out there like the Great Golden Digger wasp that will readily sting people.

Try to get a photo of the wasp and submit a report through the report cicada or cicada killer sighting form located here:

Posted By: Jack Castonguay | On: 2012-07-21 | Website:

Thompson, CT 06277. I had never seen one before. Have about six of them in my front yard

Posted By: Massachusetts Cicadas | On: 2012-07-22 | Website:

Hi Jack,

That number will probably grow over time. Not to worry though. They are harmless.

Posted By: Courtney | On: 2012-07-22 | Website:

LOL ... they are back this year in full force. We have probably 50 of them. The other morning at about 4am, I took my dog out and heard a buzzing noise, so I turned on the flashlight and witnessed a fight between a cicada killer and a mole! The mole won, and ran off under my deck with the cicada killer in its mouth. It was awesome to see that. I have a love/hate relationship with the wasps. While I like to watch them buzz around, my flowerbox and grass area gets completely ruined by their mounds. Oh well ...

Posted By: Scott | On: 2012-07-22 | Website:

The cicada killers are back again this year, and the colony looks like it has about doubled in size

Posted By: Scott | On: 2012-07-24 | Website:

there are about two or three nests, around my shed this year

Posted By: Loretta | On: 2012-08-19 | Website:

Thank you so much for providing detailed pictures and info. My kids and I caught one of a few burrowing near our stairway on our property and we had no idea what it was. Initially we thought with it's meneacing looks it was an aggresive giant hornet capable of endless stings. So we were relieved to find it was docile, nectar drinker. It was a good lesson to not judge a book by it's cover.

Posted By: lee | On: 2013-04-24 | Website:

I just stumbled across your website today when looking for info on eating cicadas, lol. This got me interested in cicada killers and after looking at the first few pics on an image search I couldn't help but notice the difference in patterns on their bodies. It appears as though each one has a unique pattern much like a fingerprint. Is this true?

Also have you guys figured out if they normally take mostly male cicadas? I have a couple theories on why they may gravitate towards males. One being that only male cicadas make the noise and they use that to home in on them. The other theory is similarly related. Because the males make the noise they have a mostly hollow abdomen which they use as a resonating chamber. If they lay their eggs inside the cicada as many other ground dwelling wasps do with other insects then maybe that hollow chamber makes it a bit easier for it to do this. I could be totally wrong on these things. I just thought of it and wanted to see what you had to say though. :-)

Posted By: Massachusetts Cicadas | On: 2013-04-24 | Website:

Hi Lee,

If you are referring to the patterns on Cicada Killers, generally speaking there are no pattern differences within a species. You might get the odd morphological change in terms of the number of yellow spots on the abdomen within a particular species but other than that there are no changes.

There are several different species of cicada killers and the color patterns are different between the species.

Cicada killers do not take just male cicadas. It was believed for the a long time that cicada killer females hunt for cicadas by sound. Meaning they would listen to the sound of the male cicada call - hence only male cicadas are taken. Just so you know it is only the male cicada that can make sounds. Females cannot.

Later it was learned that cicada killers hunt by sight. They actually search the tree tops and sides of trees to find cicadas. This means they take both male and females.

The female cicada killer doesn't lay the eggs "inside" the cicada but rather lays the egg on top of the paralyzed cicada.

Thanks for the great questions!

Posted By: lee | On: 2013-04-24 | Website:

Thanks for getting back to me. Yes, I was referring to the cicada killers. I was wondering if it was a difference in species but they looked so similar that I thought they maybe the same species and there were just small variations. I'm not referring to anything huge but rather subtle details in the shapes and curves of the stripes. It's more difficult to see in the pics on this page because these are mostly action shots of them and not directly over the top pics meant for specimen purposes. If you want to shoot me an email I could send you some links of some of the differences and point out exactly what I'm talking about. I guess it may seem like splitting hairs to some but I thought it might be helpful to point out in case it could help with research at all. :-)

Posted By: Massachusetts Cicadas | On: 2013-04-24 | Website:

All the specimens in this article are of the same species. Sphecius speciosus (The Eastern Cicada Killer). There are 3 additional species known to inhabit the U.S. But the other species are regional.

Like I mentioned previously you might find slight morphological variations within a species as is true for Cicadas themselves.

Females generally run larger than males as well as other slight morphological variations between genders.

Posted By: Jeanine | On: 2013-07-30 | Website:

Thanks for this information! The last several weeks around my pool deck I've witnessed Cicada Killers carrying their find. At first I was scared of both insects but found this article very useful. I actually have a Cicada "shell" that blew into my pool that I'm assuming the Cicada killer brought out of its nest.

Posted By: terry | On: 2013-07-30 | Website:

Glad to have found this info on your website. Came home this past Sunday afternoon to Hanson, MA-saw this huge wasp with a big wing span-noticed the burrowed out dirt piles below my first stair to the deck. Asked around, as I've never seen them before. I'm a letter carrier, and so funny I saw one on my route today in Rockland, and watched it in the grass, bringing something to the hole opening. I have workers coming to my house tomorrow who will probably be afraid of them. So I think I will cover holes with a mat just for one day. Thanks!

Posted By: Annette DeGiovine | On: 2013-07-31 | Website:

I have been surveying dragonflies for about 7 years and in one location I have noticed a large lek every year. Today I noticed the females started digging holes and for the first time saw a female come in with a cicada. I am on Long Island so was not sure if you wanted dated from NY also.

Posted By: jack | On: 2013-07-31 | Website:

A couple of years ago I had a couple of the wasp. Now there must be 50.I love to watch visitors faces as they come up the walk and stop in horror, mouth agape as our friends buzz around.

Posted By: Dave Portela | On: 2013-08-02 | Website:

Hi there, I work for a utility company in fall river ma. we have a small gate station in fall river that is taken over by what we believe are cicada killers, we have even witnessed dead or paralized cicadas on the sidewalk all around the station, there are probably over 100 burrows and dirt piles along the outside perimeter, when we have to work at the station we are buzzed all day some guys will not work there in the summer, people walking by run out in to the street when they see these huge wasps buzzing around them. if you would like the location let me know I will admit I am too nervous to try to get close up pictures or even worse steel a cicada from one, I may be able to pick up a cicada from the sidewalk if that will help. Thanks for the site very informative

Posted By: Massachusetts Cicadas | On: 2013-08-02 | Website:

I think the first thing to do is to try and either send photos. But since you are seeing paralyzed cicadas, I am certain these are cicada killers. If you would like, contact me via the contact form on the contact page and we can discuss how to alleviate the employee's fears.

Posted By: ann farrelly | On: 2013-08-14 | Website:

My Mom has a dog that keeps digging up these giant wasps that appear to live alone in a he in the ground. I think I now k ow what they are. Somerset Ma. I will get a pic.

Posted By: Matt | On: 2013-08-18 | Website:

I am in the lawn care business and have noticed huge colonies of these wasps this year. My question is are they hurting the Cicadas population? I also noticed that some walkways and sidewalks are actually being damaged by the "ecavation" of the burrows. It will be interesting to see if they disappear like some other large Wasps and hornets have.

Posted By: David | On: 2013-09-26 | Website:

3 confirmed burrows here in concord NH. I have seen mating, and the presence of up to 8-10 of the wasps at a time.

Posted By: Massachusetts Cicadas | On: 2013-09-26 | Website:

Hi David,

It would seem to be awfully late for Cicada Killers especially in Concord, NH. Typically when it gets down into the 40's at night, this has a tendency to kill off a lot of insects, cicadas and cicada killers included. Perhaps if you were to send in a photo, we can identify the species and confirm it is indeed cicada killer wasps.

Posted By: Linda | On: 2014-07-19 | Website:

This is the second year we have seen these wasps. We have found 4 burrows in our back yard.

Posted By: Jason tonelli | On: 2014-07-22 | Website:

I work at Rand Whitney on Grove St in Worcester MA. We definitely have these wasps. Someone should come here because they are going to kill them.

Posted By: Lara | On: 2014-07-24 | Website:

I'm interested in hearing a response to Matt's post above. We have cicada killer wasps in our yard and they are utterly destroying the foundation of our stone work. I understand that this page is dedicated the amazing qualities of the insect, but frankly they aren't all sunshine and light and having them around isn't the same as having honeybees frequent your garden.

Posted By: Wayne Ratkowski | On: 2014-07-29 | Website:

I have a lot off these in my yard I was wondering why at night after dark they were buzzing all around us as we were working on a truck in the driveway. not aggressively more like curious puppies

contradicts what i have read about activity time

Posted By: Joyce Hein | On: 2014-08-08 | Website:

We were wondering what had make some large holes in our yard and low and behold we spotted these large flying insects.....saw your website. After reading your post decided to leave these cicada killers alone. We live in Tolland Ct. We have never seen these guys in previous years.

Posted By: Jaime Haskins | On: 2014-08-20 | Website:

I've been researching this species today because I found multiple holes and flying adults yesterday in Owls Head, Maine. I have a B.S. in wildlife biology, and spent years doing reptile, amphibian and invertebrate surveys throughout New England. Though I'm mostly a carpenter/arborist in recent years. I will send photos ASAP. Cicadas are buzzing away. I've never seen this wasp in Maine until now.

Posted By: George Arasimowicz | On: 2014-08-21 | Website:

I have had them burrowing in my front lawn since mid july. I live in Bristol Ct

Posted By: Peter Chen | On: 2014-08-23 | Website:

Having people steal wasp food to get info on cicadas is slightly unethical and unproductive; did you get much data via this method?

I spent ~50 hours over 12 days earlier this month observing these fascinating wasps in Virginia, and I only saw female Cicada Killers with cicada twice, about 2 seconds each before she disappeared down the burrow.

I tried blocking burrows with twigs and pebbles to slow the wasp down and take a pic, but I only saw lone females, sans cicada, turned away by the obstacle, so I stopped my intrusive blocking.

I would think if you want to collect info on cicadas, it would be much more productive to train us to ID them by sound.

Here is a little write-up on what I observe:

Posted By: Dave Ellis | On: 2014-08-29 | Website:

I just got stung twice by a female Cicada Killer. Not too bad but it does hurt like a wasp sting.

So know you know of someone getting stung by one!

Posted By: Jaime Haskins | On: 2014-08-29 | Website:

Upon furter examination of the large wasps in Owls Head, I see they are actually golden digger wasps. Still big and docile and burrowing, but not the same coloration. Oh well.

Posted By: Nick | On: 2014-08-30 | Website:

Just saw one of these today at my home in raymond nh. My mother sprayed it with wasp killer out of fear. I did not find a burrow anywhere.

Posted By: Greg Stewart | On: 2015-07-15 | Website:

Okay, I am comforted knowing that this species is not aggressive, and I don't have any desire to eradicate them since they are beneficial to the trees by hunting the cicadas.

But, this year we have seen an exponential growth in the number of them around our house, and our two-year old daughter is absolutely terrified of them.

Is there anything to do to deter them from creating burrows around our front door and the areas where our daughter would like to play in the yard?

Can they be coaxed to relocate their burrows without resorting to extermination efforts?


Posted By: shawna | On: 2015-07-29 | Website:

Just found a nest of cicada killer wasps in Maine. I killed one to find out what it was. Sizes ranged from 1 1/2" - 2 1/2". This nest is in the center of Sanford Maine. If you have any questions please let me know. I will do the best I can to answer. I am happy to mail specimen to you as well. I have some pics too...

Posted By: Ava W. | On: 2015-08-13 | Website:

Hello, I would like to report a cicada killer however it MAY not actually BE a cicada killer, it could be something totally different. I saw the hunting behavior you described and what i saw looked somewhat like the pictures I know this was probably put up a few years ago but i would like to say the address anyway I saw it in Veterans Park in Bayville NJ In Ocean County I am in the US.

Posted By: Ava W. | On: 2015-08-13 | Website:

Sadly Though It Might've Moved, We Got So Scared Because At The Time We Didn't Know What It Was We Clogged Up The Burrow With The Mound Of Dirt At The Front So It May Not Be There Anymore. :(

Posted By: Aguest | On: 2015-08-14 | Website:

We have a ton of these...with burrows...and the cicada's along with them. Fearsome looking! Always wondered what they were. Fairfield Cty, CT

Posted By: Bill Hall | On: 2015-08-22 | Website:

Our Ash (?) tree is covered with these wasps, smaller bees & crawling gray bugs.

Posted By: Susan | On: 2017-07-31 | Website:

I have never seen these before in my life and they are so large they are very scary. Thanks for the information that they are NOT agressive, since I was all set to bomb them tonight. They are nesting in my driveway, closest to the street, so I think I can let them be.

Posted By: Joe Santacroce | On: 2017-08-09 | Website:

Greenport Long Island ny

Posted By: hilerie rose | On: 2017-08-22 | Website:

I am in Hingham, MA (Plymouth County). I have around 5 or 6 burrows on our sandy, sunny hill. I saw a female with a huge white cicada that she was pulling into her lair (it scared the bejezus out of me, I didn't know what it was at that time, other than it was huge wasp) I would say it was close to 2"s long, the cicada looked bigger than her. My husband saw, what we now know is a male, buzzing around last week. I told him to leave them alone, they aren't dangerous. You can come and observe them if you want. It's around 3pm here now. I haven't seen any yet today but I will go out and look for them right now. If I see any, I will send a picture.

Posted By: Aaron Downing | On: 2017-10-17 | Website:

This is the first year have seen these wasp in my life!!! We live in Chelsea VT. Climate change!? Past few months the yare all over our 30+ acre property... Even getting in the house quite often.


Posted By: Shane | On: 2018-07-21 | Website:

I have one of these in my back yard. I think it’s a female because of the large stinger. I would like to get rid of it because I have two small children. What do I do?

Posted By: Robert Lassen | On: 2018-08-26 | Website:

Found one in Dracut Massachusetts. I think it was female by the size. I have a picture but no size reference.

Posted By: Michael Benjamin | On: 2019-08-05 | Website:


Useful article. Thank you.

Do Cicada Killers produce nests?

I have a large number of what appear to be Cicada Killers hovering right above my front lawn during the day (presumably looking for spots in which to create burrows).

However, they appear to all be coming and going from a giant nest in a bush, also in the front lawn.

I haven't been able to find anything online about CK nests.

Any thoughts?

Thank you.

Michael Benjamin

Stamford, CT

Posted By: Leslie Courtemanche | On: 2019-08-05 | Website:

I saw several Eastern cicada killers today, 8/5/19 at approximately 5:30pm at a cemetery on Washington St. in Peabody, MA. They were flitting around near the ground. I saw several of them enter in to small hole, we itch all the excavated dirt around the opening. I noticed probably ten of these openings, all in a row at the edge of a sandy lawn and a gravelly road. These wasps were moving so fast, I was unable to

Posted By: Matt Mason | On: 2020-07-09 | Website:

Found a large wasp that I believe to be a Cicada killer wasp at my house in Peabody July 9, 2020. I killed it before I knew what is was but have a photo if you need to see it for verification

Posted By: Junior | On: 2020-07-20 | Website:

July 20, 2020 in Easton MA & Taunton MA two swarms of cicada killer wasps hanging around areas where grass has died due to lack of water / rain. Where both encountered, these insects were aggressive, following children, adults and pets passing through to get to buildings. It's been going on for two weeks now and the wasps aggressive behavior is worse with each passing day.

Posted By: Lynne Allen | On: 2020-07-24 | Website:

I have these at my home in Plaistow's New Hampshire. They are making a mess in between the pavers of my new patio in my backyard. There are holes in the sand between many of the pavers. I don't want to kill them but how do I stop them from ruining my patio?

Posted By: Karen McKenna | On: 2020-07-26 | Website:

I have an infestation of these in my yard for many years now. It's impossible to have people over to sit outside because everyone is terrified of these wasps.

My nieces and nephews won't even utilize my pool because they would have to walk through a storm of these menacing looking creatures to get to it.

I am at my wits end to get rid of them.

Posted By: Scott David Sharp | On: 2020-10-17 | Website: Google

Uh, WRONG! I hate to be a party pooper or fear monger but these almost killed my friend. At age 12 we used to visit a giant Poplar on the edge of a canal. As the 5 0f is trekked with me leading we came upon some low ivy. I heard an ear piercing scream and looked back to see my Friend Shea Fogleman grab at his knee, in jeans. Someone screamed, ‘Bees’ and I was gone! The horrible screaming continued. I remembered looking back as humming bird size critters bussed up from multiple holes. He was stung 35 times!!! I think it was a Pheromone release attack. There were males all over him but just crawling. The bites were horrendous!!! The size of a nickel! He pullled one from his hair and showed us, he was rushed to the hospital in A. N. Shock, nearly died and spent three days in the hospital. Later a friend bought the place and was hit 14 times by many. Orkin called me to show them but all of us refused. Took me years to ID the culprit if you smash a female run like hell, they don’t like family death!

Posted By: Scott Sharp | On: 2020-10-17 | Website: Google

More after speaking with Shea. We wiped Males off and out of his shirt. He was trembling and crying. He told us the little black bees didn’t sting and we thought that they were another species like the white face Bumble Bee. He had purplish goo on his hands from crushing them. Roy Turner said he was running across a grassy area as the females or big ones dive bombed at speed ramming their stingers thru his clothing Shea said he could hear the impact and feel the sting. He lost all of his hair in the next two years as we watched it turn hard and brittle. He was also allergic. What bothered me was seeing them come from what we thought were multiple exits to a larger nest under ground. So no smashing around numbers! The first one stung through his jeans, he saw it crawling and grabbed it, then it stung his hand, he crushed it and that’s when the sound started. They have a distress pheromone. It was like sounding a ‘Charge’. Don’t underestimate their good nature!

Posted By: Michael | On: 2021-02-27 | Website:

Cicada wasps located last year at Decordova Museum in Lincoln Mass.

Top of the hill in back where we set up tents for events under boulders along road.

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Posted By: pirate zlot | On: 2021-07-31 | Website:

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Posted By: pirate zlot | On: 2021-07-31 | Website:

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Posted By: pirate zlot | On: 2021-07-31 | Website:

jokerjoker slotสล็อตslotxoสล็อตออนไลน์gamegameเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมเกมherbalifeโปรโมทเว็บไซต์numberonepromotepromotediamondpromoteofficialsawaddeepromotethebestofficial

Posted By: Elizabeth Diamond | On: 2021-08-08 | Website:

I've never seen these before. The other day my cat found one. I took a few pictures. I'm in New York. Although I'm not 100% positive this is what I saw, the size and color matches. I saw one that was definitely between 1-2". That's what I first noticed - how big it was. Are these normally found here?

Posted By: Lesa Kaitz | On: 2021-08-16 | Website:

I’m pretty sure this large wasp is a cicada killer. It was flying then landed on my dirt road. I watched it burrow for a few minutes. I took a few pictures.

Posted By: jeanne spellman | On: 2022-04-13 | Website:

Think I might have a swarm of Ciccada killers in my yard

Posted By: Nene | On: 2022-05-25 | Website:

Office building in Braintree MA Therapy office. Took three of us to catch it with cup and release. We didn't know what it was until further research. I don't kill insects so I sprang into action along with therapist and her patient. Amazing insect I was unaware of until today.

Dr logans office Braintree Rehab

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Did you spot an annual cicada or a cicada killer wasp? If you did and you have a photo and want to report it, please click the link below.

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