"This guy has found it's home among our impatiens in our backyard. It protects this patch from other intruding wasps. I noticed in these pictures that this is probably a male wasp. If its his girlfriend he is chasing away from his nectar source, he needs a lesson in vinegar vs. honey. By the way I took these with my Nikon D90 with a 300 mm + 1.4 tele-extender = 420 mm lens. I wish this guy would tolerate me getting close with the Pentax with high speed video. He is very alert to my presence."Larry had already identified it as a cicada killer, Sphecius specious. The largest wasp in North America, it is fearsome in appearance but in reality it is more of a pussy cat. They emerge from the overwinter cocoons in mid-July. The female, twice the size of the male, uses her stinger to paralyze cicada and won't sting humans in self defense unless roughly handled.
|S. specious with paralyzed cicada- Wikimedia|
|Velvet "Ant"- The Ant that Ain't|
|Cicada Killer- Shelly Cox at MOBugs|
Like all other animals, the cicada killer is a mixed blessing. They are welcomed by our trees as they reduce the numbers of cicadas, a forest parasite. The annual cicada likely don't see it that way. They don't have any effect on 13 and 17 year cicadas which emerge in May and June, dying off before the cicada killers arrive. With our neatly mowed lawns and loose flower beds providing both nectar and easy digging, it is no wonder that S. specious has learned to love the suburbs. Keep your eyes open and you too may be able to follow this gift of nature.
Dick Walton's Natural History Services page has a great 4 minute video of cicada killers.
Extensive information on S. specious is available at Professor Chuck Holiday's page at Layfette College