Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Cicada Killer antics

        Have you ever been sitting in your back yard, around your pool, or in a park and all of a sudden you notice a B2 Stealth Bomber headed straight for your head!  Wait a minute that can’t be right, it is just a “humongous” wasp. You move, duck, just knowing at any minute it is going to pick you up and transport you back to its nest just like in some science fiction movie about giant flying insects.
        What you have just experienced is probably one of the “digger wasp” species, probably the Cicada Killer.  Males are very territorial and it is just letting you know you are in it's territory.  What is funny though is that it's bark is worse than it's bite.  Male wasps do not have stingers, so he is just putting on a good show.

Cicada Killer, alias B2 Stealth Bomber!

Male Cicada Killers do not have a stinger

Male and Female Cicada Killers
        Recently Dr. Bart Drees, Professor and Extension Entomologist for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, was in Kingwood, TX visiting a residence with a very high number of Cicada Killers.  He videotaped what he witnessed and collected several Cicada Killer specimens (see images above).  Dr. Drees has a Landscape IPM web page with great information on integrated pest management for today's landscapes.  I urge you to bookmark this page, it is loaded with good "stuff."  
        Dr. Drees has a great write-up on “Ground-Nesting Wasps and Bees” on his site (and also information about his proposed new Olympic Sport, Cicada Killer badminton).   To read about digger wasps, control strategy, and Dr. Drees' recent Kingwood, TX visit and view his videos click on this Cicada Killer link.
        You might want to buy a badminton racket for your next "Cicada Killer" encounter, though sometimes it seems like a howitzer would be more appropriate!!!

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