Return Of The Cicada Killers

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Update on the Jonestown wasp situation

(All the small pics can be enlarged)

In case you forgot or were unaware, Paper Wasps recently attempted to build a nest outside Jonestown’s headquarters. Unfortunately, during our negotiations one of the wasps had a brief and painful encounter with a few of her cousins, The Cicada Killers, and did not survive.

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Her companion valiantly carried on, but apparently abandoned her work sometime in the last couple of days, as the nest is only partially completed, and she’s nowhere to be found. It’s very possible the Cicada Killers got her as well. Currently there are 15-20 of them residing in our Court Yard. And this in itself is an odd occurrence.

Cicada Killers are, exactly as their name implies, Cicada hunters. They are a species of Wasp, which until my dad set me straight this morning I did not know. (I thought they were Hornets).

For a long time they were considered unofficially “Threatened” here in Louisville because of people who chemically treat their lawns. (Nothing like a “natural” looking lawn where everything Natural is dead. “That sure is a handsome lawn you have there Thad.” “Everything I do is handsome. Bwah ha ha ha ha”).

Cicada Wasps live in burrows until they mature and then sometime in the Summer they emerge to begin hunting for their favorite prey, the Cicada. (These are Cicadas, not to be confused with “Locusts”, which they are often called by mistake).

This is a Painted Locust (A species of Grasshopper)

Female Cicada Killers capture one of those bug eyed freaks, sting it, drag it down into their burrows and lay a single egg on it. The larva will then feed on the Cicada until it’s ready to come out and begin the cycle again.

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more_killers_hand_35.jpg Only female Cicada Killers sting, and adults of both sexes feed on Nectar not human flesh. Unfortunately, Cicada Killers have a bad reputation because of their size (1″-2 1/2″), incessant buzz bombing and their territoriality, but in truth your human neighbors are far more likely to kill you than a Cicada Killer.

Alright enough of the Entomology discussion. Here’s the reason I’m updating.

This morning, as I was taking out the garbage I stumbled upon this:

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What in the fuck is that you ask, oh Faithful Reader? That is a couple of Cicada Killers getting it on, the “Horizontal Bop” (Or in this case the “Vertical Bop”. I just alluded to a Bob Seger song, Dear God forgive me), yep they’re “doing it.” I actually overheard the Female say, “Yes, that’s it Baby don’t stop, it’s soooo Big!” (I swear she looked at me after saying that and rolled her eyes).

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So, here are a couple of Cicada Killers doing their best to ensure the survival of their species.  And I decided to take a couple of pictures, as this is quite a rare sight. (In fact, they’re so rare I sent the pictures to an Entomology website. The swarm we have is also rare as they are typically a solitary species. I’ll know more later).

I’m sorry the pictures are not better, but the female kept turning to watch me, apparently none too pleased with my voyeurism. And being allergic to their sting, I didn’t want to press my luck. (Yes, they rarely sting, but they seem to love stinging me). She was approximately two inches long, and she had a big fat ass. (That’s how we like it at Jonestown. Baby had Back!) Just thought I’d share. I’ll make sure to keep you updated. (I know you’ll wait with baited breath).

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~ by fairlane on July 8, 2007.

8 Responses to “Return Of The Cicada Killers”

  1. Still a few bugs in the system. I hate cicada’s, but then you show a wasp that kills them having “republican sex”. Now I’m hopelessly confused.

  2. Sorry py,

    I’m confused as well. First I liked them now I’m not sure.

    They were all over the place this morning. I think my estimate may have been off by 10 or 15. They were swarming. As I said, that’s rare. You hardly ever see more than a couple at a time.

    Very unnerving, but as I walked past they buzzed me for a second and then went on with their day.

    The males are the ones who generally fly at you trying to defend their territory, but they can’t sting. It’s the big mommas (Females) you have to watch.

  3. I’ve seen a couple of those around my house before. Never knew what they were before. I learned soemthing again! This has been very educational in an odd sort of way. :P

  4. what the heck is “republican sex”?

  5. “What the heck is republican sex?”

    Good question.

  6. hahahah. Republican sex.

  7. i caught a male today, it was easy really, i saw him in the grass and held my hand out he got up on it and i put him in my aviary i built for insects i collect.

  8. last year I counted over 20 of them flying around on my very small patio slab. I think there were four colonies. One on each corner of the patio. I was very confused about how the males could tell which colony to protect and how they new which female was which!!! I did not set foot on my patio from mid july to mid august!!!!

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