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Encyclopedia > Cicada Killer Wasp
Wikipedia:How to read a taxobox
How to read a taxobox
Eastern Cicada Killer

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Hexapoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Suborder: Apocrita
Superfamily: Apoidea
Family: Crabronidae
Subfamily: Bembicinae
Tribe: Gorytini
Genus: Sphecius
Species: S. speciosus
Binomial name
Sphecius speciosus
Drury, (1773)

Cicada killer wasps are large, solitary wasps in the family Crabronidae. The name may be applied to any species of Crabronid which uses cicadas as prey, though it is typically applied to a single North American species, Sphecius speciosus, often simply referred to as "The Cicada killer". However, since there are multiple species of related wasps, it is more appropriate to call it the Eastern Cicada Killer to distinguish it. This species occurs in the eastern and midwest U.S. and southwards into Mexico and Central America. They are so named because they hunt cicadas and provision their nests with them. In North America they are sometimes called Sand Hornets, although they are not hornets, which belong to the family Vespidae. From [1], a web site of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. ... Scientific classification or biological classification is a method by which biologists group and categorize species of organisms. ... “Animalia” redirects here. ... Subphyla and Classes Subphylum Trilobitomorpha Trilobita - trilobites (extinct) Subphylum Chelicerata Arachnida - spiders,scorpions, etc. ... Classes & Orders Class Insecta (insects) Class Entognatha The subphylum Hexapoda (from the Greek for six legs) constitutes the largest (in terms of number of species) grouping of arthropods and includes the insects as well as three much smaller groups of wingless arthropods: Collembola, Protura, and Diplura. ... Orders Subclass Apterygota Symphypleona - globular springtails Subclass Archaeognatha (jumping bristletails) Subclass Dicondylia Monura - extinct Thysanura (common bristletails) Subclass Pterygota Diaphanopteroidea - extinct Palaeodictyoptera - extinct Megasecoptera - extinct Archodonata - extinct Ephemeroptera (mayflies) Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) Infraclass Neoptera Blattodea (cockroaches) Mantodea (mantids) Isoptera (termites) Zoraptera Grylloblattodea Dermaptera (earwigs) Plecoptera (stoneflies) Orthoptera (grasshoppers, crickets... Suborders Apocrita Symphyta Hymenoptera is one of the larger orders of insects, comprising the sawflies, wasps, bees, and ants. ... Superfamilies Apoidea Ceraphronoidea Chalcidoidea Chrysidoidea Cynipoidea Evanioidea Ichneumonoidea Megalyroidea Proctotrupoidea Sphecoidea Stephanoidea Triganalyoidea Vespoidea Many families, see article Apocrita is a suborder of insects in the order Hymenoptera. ... Families Andrenidae Anthophoridae Apidae Colletidae Ctenoplectridae Halictidae Heterogynaidae Megachilidae Melittidae Oxaeidae Sphecidae Stenotritidae This article is about the insect. ... Genera Many, see text Crabronidae (Latreille, 1802) is a family of wasps. ... Tribes Alyssontini Bembicini Gorytini Heliocausini Nyssonini Stizini The Bembicinae is a large subfamily of crabronid wasps, that includes over 80 genera, and over 1800 species. ... Diversity 21 species Species See text. ... In biology, binomial nomenclature is the formal system of naming species. ... Dru Drury. ... Suborder Apocrita See text for explanation. ... In biological classification, family (Latin: familia, plural familiae) is 1) a rank or 2) a taxon in that rank. ... Genera Many, see text Crabronidae (Latreille, 1802) is a family of wasps. ... For other uses, see Central America (disambiguation). ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... World map showing North America A satellite composite image of North America. ... This article refers collectively to all true hornets. ... Genera The vespids are a family of wasps, including all social wasps and some solitary wasps. ...

Contents

Description

Adult cicada killer wasps are large, 1.5 to 5 cm (2/3 to 2 inches) long, robust wasps with reddish and black areas on the thorax (middle part), and are black to reddish brown marked with light yellow stripes on the abdominal (rear) segments. The wings are brownish. Coloration may superficially resemble that of yellowjackets or hornets. The females are significantly larger than the males, and both are among the largest wasps seen in the Eastern United States, their unusual size giving them a uniquely fearsome appearance. European hornets (Vespa crabro) are often mistaken for cicada killers. A centimetre (American spelling centimeter, symbol cm) is a unit of length that is equal to one hundredth of a metre, the current SI base unit of length. ... An inch (plural: inches; symbol or abbreviation: in or, sometimes, ″ - a double prime) is the name of a unit of length in a number of different systems, including English units, Imperial units, and United States customary units. ... Diagram of a tsetse fly, showing the head, thorax and abdomen The thorax is a division of an animals body that lies between the head and the abdomen. ... Yellowjacket or yellow-jacket is the common name in North America for wasps of the genera Vespula and Dolichovespula. ... This article refers collectively to all true hornets. ... This article refers collectively to all true hornets. ... Binomial name Vespa crabro L., 1761 For main article see hornet. ...


Life cycle and habits

Two nests dug in the cracks of a concrete staircase. The second nest is between the wall and the pipe.
Two nests dug in the cracks of a concrete staircase. The second nest is between the wall and the pipe.

Solitary wasps (such as the Cicada killer) are very different in their behavior from the social wasps such as hornets, yellowjackets, and paper wasps. Cicada killer females use their sting to paralyze their prey (cicadas) rather than to defend their nests. Adults feed on flower nectar and other plant sap exudates. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (1023x1365, 690 KB) A Cicada Killer Wasp nest dug in the cracks of a cement stairwell. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (1023x1365, 690 KB) A Cicada Killer Wasp nest dug in the cracks of a cement stairwell. ... Concrete being poured, raked and vibrated into place in residential construction in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. ... This article refers collectively to all true hornets. ... Yellowjacket or yellow-jacket is the common name in North America for wasps of the genera Vespula and Dolichovespula. ... In this image of a female Polistes wasp tending to a nest, a long, black petiole, by which the nest is attached to the branch, is quite apparent. ... In Greek mythology, nectar and ambrosia are the food of the gods. ... The abbreviation, acronym, or initialism SAP has several different meanings: SAP AG, a German software company, or its various products such as SAP R/3 or SAP Business Information Warehouse second audio program (television) Session Announcement Protocol Soritong audio player Simple As Possible Computer Architecture Structural Adjustment Program of the...


Adults emerge in summer, typically beginning around late June or early July and continuing throughout the summer months. They are present in a given area for 60 to 75 days, until mid-September. The large females are commonly seen in mid-to-late summer skimming around lawns, shrubs and trees searching for cicadas. This article does not cite any references or sources. ...


The males are more often seen in groups, vigorously challenging one another for the territory surrounding a female burrow, and generally pursuing anything that moves or flies within close proximity. It is not unusual to see two or three male wasps locked together in midair manual combat, the aggregate adopting an erratic and uncontrolled flight path until one of the wasps breaks off the attack. The male wasp's aggressive behavior is extremely similar to that of another robust insect of the area, the male carpenter bee. In each case, while the males' bombastic territorial defense can prove extremely frightening and intimidating to human passerby, the males pose no danger whatsoever. They will only grapple with other insects, and possess no stinging capacity. Genera Xylocopa (31 subgenera) Carpenter bees (the genus Xylocopa in the subfamily Xylocopinae) are large, hairy bees distributed worldwide. ...


This ground-burrowing wasp may be found in well-drained, sandy soils to loose clay in bare or grass-covered banks, berms, hills as well as raised sidewalks, driveways and patio slabs. Females may share a burrow, digging their own nest cells off of the main tunnel. A burrow is 15 to 25 cm (6 - 10 in.) deep and about 3 cm (1.5 in.) wide. The female dislodges the soil with her jaws and pushes loose soil behind her as she backs out of the burrow using her hind legs, which are equipped with special spines. The excess soil pushed out of the burrow forms a mound with a trench in it at the burrow entrance. Cicada killers may nest in planters, window boxes, flower beds or under shrubs, ground cover, etc. Nests often are made in the full sun where vegetation is sparse, especially in well-drained soils.

Burrow of female cicada killer wasp, in loose sandy dirt adjacent to pavement (New Jersey).
Burrow of female cicada killer wasp, in loose sandy dirt adjacent to pavement (New Jersey).

After digging a nest chamber in the burrow, female cicada killers capture cicadas, paralyzing them with a sting; the cicadas then serve as food to rear their young. After paralyzing a cicada, the female wasp straddles it and takes off toward her burrow; this return flight to the burrow is difficult for the wasp because the cicada is twice her weight. After putting the cicada in the nest cell, the female deposits an egg on the cicada and closes the cell with dirt. Male eggs are laid on a single cicada but female eggs are given two or sometimes three cicadas; this is because the female wasp is twice as large as the male and must have more food. New nest cells are dug as necessary off of the main burrow tunnel and a single burrow may eventually have 10 to 20 cells. The egg hatches in one or two days, and the cicadas serve as food for the grub. The larvae complete their development in about 2 weeks. Overwintering occurs as a mature larva within an earth-coated cocoon. Pupation occurs in the nest cell in the spring and lasts 25 to 30 days. There is only one generation per year and no adults overwinter. Image File history File links Metadata No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links Metadata No higher resolution available. ... A larval insect A larva (Latin; plural larvae) is a juvenile form of animal with indirect development, undergoing metamorphosis (for example, insects or amphibians). ... A larval insect A larva (Latin; plural larvae) is a juvenile form of animal with indirect development, undergoing metamorphosis (for example, insects or amphibians). ... The tough brown cocoon of an Emperor Gum Moth. ...


This wasp is frequently attacked by the parasitic "velvet ant" wasp, Dasymutilla occidentalis, also known as the "cow-killer" wasp. It lays an egg in the nest cell of the cicada killer, and when the cicada killer larva pupates, the parasitoid larva consumes the pupa. This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ...


Interaction with humans

Cicada killers perch anywhere around their nest, including man-made structures.
Cicada killers perch anywhere around their nest, including man-made structures.

While they may be frightfully large,[1] female Cicada killer wasps are not aggressive and rarely sting unless they are grasped roughly, stepped upon with bare feet, or caught in clothing, etc. Males aggressively defend their perching areas on nesting sites against rival males but they have no sting. Although they appear to attack anything which moves near their territories, male cicada killers are actually investigating anything which might be a female cicada killer ready to mate. Such close inspection appears to many people to be an attack, but the wasps rarely even land on people. If handled roughly females will sting, and males will jab with a sharp spine on the tip of their abdomen. Both sexes appear to be well equipped to bite, as they have large jaws; however, they are unable to grasp human skin and cannot bite. They are non-aggressive towards humans and fly away when swatted at, instead of attacking. Cicada killers exert a natural control on cicada populations and thus may directly benefit the deciduous trees upon which cicadas feed. Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (1365x1023, 443 KB) Two Cicada Killer Wasps perched on a light fixture. ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (1365x1023, 443 KB) Two Cicada Killer Wasps perched on a light fixture. ...


Other cicada killer wasps

The North American cicada killer wasps all belong to the genus Sphecius, of which there are 21 species worldwide. The remaining three cicada-killing species in North America are: Diversity 21 species Species See text. ...

  • Sphecius convallis (Patton, 1879), the Pacific Cicada Killer, occurs in the western U.S. and in Mexico.
  • Sphecius grandis (Say, 1824) the Western Cicada Killer, occurs in the mid- and western U.S. and in Mexico.
  • Sphecius hogardii (Latreille,1806), the Caribbean Cicada Killer, occurs in the U.S. in Florida and in the Caribbean.

There is also a South American cicada killer, Sphecius spectabilis (Taschenberg, 1875). Thomas Say. ... Pierre André Latreille. ...


Many other cicada killer wasp species are found in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. There are also several other genera of cicada killers, e.g. Liogorytes in South America and, in Australia, genus Exeirus. The Australian species is:

  • Exeirus lateritius (Shuckard, 1838), and it occurs in the Murray-Darling Basin, the Australian mainland's south-east coast, and Tasmania.[2]

Semi-arid grazing country near Burra Creek, South Australia The Murray-Darling Basin drains one-seventh of the Australian land mass and is currently by far the most significant agricultural area in Australia. ... Capital Hobart Government Constitutional monarchy Governor William Cox Premier Paul Lennon (ALP) Federal representation  - House seats 5  - Senate seats 12 Gross State Product (2004-05)  - Product ($m)  $16,114 (7th)  - Product per capita  $33,243/person (8th) Population (End of September 2006)  - Population  489,600 (6th)  - Density  7. ...

External links

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The original version of this heavily-edited article was a copy of a fact sheet from the Ohio State University Extension. Image File history File links Commons-logo. ... The Wikimedia Commons (also called Wikicommons) is a repository of free content images, sound and other multimedia files. ... PDF is an abbreviation with several meanings: Portable Document Format Post-doctoral fellowship Probability density function There also is an electronic design automation company named PDF Solutions. ... The Australian Museum is the oldest museum in Australia, centering on natural history and anthropology, with collections centering on vertebrate and invertebrate zoology, as well as minerology, palaeontology, and anthropology. ... The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is the national government body for scientific research in Australia. ...


  Results from FactBites:
 
Encyclopedia Smithsonian: Cicada Killer Wasp (661 words)
Cicada Killers appear as adults in late June or July, and are mostly seen visiting flowers or digging burrows in sandy or light soil.
Cicadas are paralyzed by the venom of the wasp's sting, and will remain alive during the feeding of the wasp larvae.
Cicada Killers adhere to the normal pattern of solitary wasps by mass provisioning their brood cell.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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