Question of the Week Number 1: August 16, 2018

“What is digging holes like this in my lawn, and what can I do to get rid of them?”

Cicada killers have emerged from these tunnels. But as bad as their names make them sound, they’re really beneficial predators.

These are tunnels dug by cicada killers, large wasps also known as “dirt wasps” because of their terrestrial nest-building habits.

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These insects look ferocious, but they’re really beneficial predators that attack noisy cicadas, sting, paralyze and capture them. They take them back to these tunnels where they lay eggs inside their bodies so the larvae can feed on them as they develop.

(That was a pleasant paragraph, wasn’t it?)

Cicada killer in action. (Photo courtesy Texas AgriLife Extension Entomology)

Once you see a photo of a cicada killer you’ll probably remember seeing them in real life hovering around in your landscape a couple of feet off the ground. They fly like giant boxcars on patrol for contraband – in this case, those loud cicadas that keep you awake nights.

If you’re ever out in the yard working while this is all going on, you’ll suddenly hear a loud shriek and a whole lot of buzzing. That will be the sound of the cicada getting stung and being paralyzed. You’ll look to see what’s going on, and you’ll see the wasp wrestling the victim down to the ground. Soon it will take off with the lifeless insect in tow as it heads back to the tunnel.

This photograph was posted to my Facebook page just a few days ago by a reader in Princeton. Cicada killers are alive and active!

So that’s life in the cicada jungle. Aren’t you glad you stopped by for a visit?

Here is a page that gives you all of the facts.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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