Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Insects of Doom: Cicada Wasps

 One of our Tomatoe beds has had some rather scary looking residents move in - a colony of "Cicada Wasps".  These wasps nave black and yellow strips and are 2 to 2.5 inches long - that's 4 to 5 cm's for my metric friends.

They have very aggressive behavior, which given their size makes them a rather scary proposition.  Well scary until a little research.
 These Wasps have a brutal lifecycle - they hunt Cicadas and other larger flying insects which the males grab in flight.  Male Cicada Wasps don't have stingers - so while their aggressive, they can't hurt you that badly.  They still have large mandibles but rarely bite anything they can't fly away with.

The scientific name of these brutes is Sphecius speciosus - which I find a bit humorous.
 So what happens to the hapless Cicada or bumble bee that's caught.  Its kinda of a grim fate.  The new guest is brought back to the colony for dinner where It's introduced to the a female.  After a little chit chat, maybe some hot hordeovres, the female cicada wasps stings the cicada paralyzing it.

The now incapacitated guest is dragged further into the colony and the female lays one of two eggs on it and our poor cicada serves as a meal for the young as they hatch and mature.  A fascinating and ghastly example of the efficiency of animal day care.
While the females do have a very nasty stringer, they will rarely sting a human and these very scary critters are that dangerous.

I'm still trying to decide if I need too eradicate them from the garden.  I need a lot of bee activity for pollination and I have found a lot of info on how these critters interact.

I have seen the wasps go after bumble bees

 Of course my wife doesn't believe any of the information on the "low threat" and will not go in the corner of the garden they inhabit.
 These Wasps are fascinating to watch and are very colorful.

 Still, I get a little nervous when they land on my ears while I'm working in the garden.  For some reason my ears look like a Wasp rest stop.  It's happened every time I've gone in the garden without a hat.

I always wear a hat while gardening now....
Some of you might be asking - why in the hell is he gardening with Historicon just about a week away?  Fear not, progress is being made but there have been some setbacks.

The last terrain piece thats needed for the game takes shape...


David Sullivan said...

I'm with your wife on this. Those things are nasty looking. If they're killing the bumble bees, I say eradicate them.

Gary said...

I think I will quote the Dialects from Dr Who... Exterminate! Exterminate... ;)