A few days ago I posted a close-up photograph of a newly emerged cicada. Birds prey on cicadas, but they also have another predator to worry about in the insect realm…cicada wasps, or as they are also known, cicada hawks. These scary looking wasps don’t usually sting people, but they are deadly to cicadas. I find their appearance fascinating.
Solitary wasps (such as the eastern 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; unlike most social wasps and bees, they do not attempt to sting unless handled roughly. Adults feed on flower nectar and other plant sap exudates. After digging a nest chamber in the burrow, female cicada killers capture cicadas, paralyzing them with a sting. After paralyzing a cicada, the female wasp holds it upside down beneath her and takes off toward her burrow; this return flight to the burrow is difficult for the wasp because the cicada is often more than twice her weight. After putting one or more cicadas in her nest cell, the female deposits an egg on a cicada and closes the cell with dirt.”