A close encounter with a fierce predator.
Cicada killers are solitary wasps that prey on cicadas. The females are about two inch long and have a stinger they use to paralyze their catch. They are mostly harmless to humans unless their nests are threatened. However, male cicada killers might try to defend the nests if you come too close but they lack a stinger so it's all for show.
Adult cicada killers eat plant sap and nectar. The cicadas they collect are food for their eggs after they hatch. They have the ability to determine the gender of the eggs as they lay them and will provision the males, which are smaller, with one cicada and the females with two or more to feast on. Male cicada killers do not contribute to nest building or hunting.
Cicada killers usually dig their burrows in sunlit places with dry soil. They use their jaw to loosen up the soil and their hind legs to push it out of the tunnel. Their nests are often found on the side of driveways or sidewalks and in yards.
Their burrows are 10 - 20 inches deep and roughly 1/2 inches wide. Their nests have 10 or more chambers housing one egg each. Upon paralyzing the cicada, they will place it inside one of these cells and lay and egg beside it.
The eggs will hatch in one or two days and immediately feed on the cicada. Once the female cicadas complete their tasks, they will pass on in late summer. Her offsprings will over winter in a cocoon inside the burrow and await for spring to arrive and repeat the cycle. Watch our cicada killer video to see her in action.