Sunday, August 7, 2016

WASPS: The kind that burrow in the yard

This is the time of year when you might see Eastern cicada-killing wasps (Sphecius speciosus) digging their unsightly burrows in the yard or next to steps or the driveway. I've seen about a dozen of these burrows in the front yard this past week, and I caught a glimpse of a wasp entering her burrow.
Burrow of an Eastern cicada-killing wasp.

They have an interesting life cycle. The female wasps first dig the burrows using their strong jaws and hind legs. They then hunt for cicadas, paralyze them with a sting, and haul them back to the burrow. Finally, they lay their eggs. Male eggs require only one cicada carcass, but the bigger females require two or three.
The grubs hatch in one or two days, use the cicadas as food, and spend the winter in the burrow as larvae before developing into pupae in the spring.
The adult wasps die off in September or October.
Although the male wasps don't sting and the females are not likely to, one friend said in her experience she had been stung and it was painful.


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