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Cicada Killers in New York, NY

Sightings Category: Cicada Killers

Cicada Killers in New York, NY

At Riverside Park South - 63rd Street along the Hudson River.

I walk along the Hudson River in Riverside Park South early each day with my dog and I've been noticing these cicada killers for about a week. There are so many! They are on the blades of an ornamental grass. I am a naturalist and I've always been fascinated by cicada killers. I saw a female dragging a cicada along a park path two days ago about a mile from the site where so many have gathered. Can you tell me what you think this gathering is? I have a website/blog and I am about to post a photo of a cicada killer and I'd like to inform my readers as to why cicadas gather in such numbers.

Leslie Day

Date Posted: 2007-08-07 Comments: (2) Show Comments Hide Comments


Posted By: Massachusetts Cicadas | On: 2010-12-10 | Website:

Dear Leslie,

Thank you very much for the photo. It confirms that yes, these are indeed cicada killers. It is unusual to see cicada killers in tall grass like that. Typically they like manicured lawns or wide open areas with sandy soil and little undergrowth with the exception of maybe some small bushes. The areas are usually surrounded by trees.

Anyway a gathering place that you describe is
referred to as a "Lek". Male and female cicada killers come together at these Leks in order to mate. The female then will dig a burrow close by that will contain a series of chambers each housing a one to two paralyzed
cicadas that she will lay an egg on.

Once a Lek is established, the cicada killers will return there year after year because usually it is the offspring from the Cicada
Killers that occupied it the previous year. You have no need to fear cicada killers as they are really a docile wasp. I demonstrate this on my home page by actually handling these wasps and not being stung. Even with a whole ball of them placed in the palm of my hand.

The female cicada killer is the one who determines the sex of her offspring. If she wants to have a male cicada, she will give her
egg only one cicada to feed on. If she wants a female cicada killer to be born, she will inject her egg with sperm from the male Cicada Killer and give that egg two cicadas to feed on.

Thanks for the data.

Posted By: donna iannapollo | On: 2014-08-27 | Website:

I saw one of these wasps on the ceiling above my back porch door, it was there for 2 days, in the same position. We gently took it down with a broom and it was gone for three days. I kept looking for it! Tonight I went out to get some fresh basil, it was on the door frame of the back door. I took a clear plastic container outside, pushed it in with a small whisk broom then took it to the front of the house, laying the open container on it's side in a flower bed. I put something in the trash then looked at the container, it was gone. By the time I got to my back door, it was on the door frame cleaning its antenae!!! I've read quite a bit, not harmful, so I guess I'll just let him or her be himself!

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