Wild Fact #29 – It’s A Tough Life – Cicada Killer Wasp

 Cicada Killer Wasp

 

Cool Facts About The Cicada Killer Wasp

  • Much like the name suggests, the Cicada Killer Wasp, which is often simply referred to as the Cicada Killer, specializes in exactly that – killing Cicadas
  • The males are typically smaller, non-venomous and live a much shorter life as an adult compared to their female counterpart]
  • Although the Cicada Killer Wasp kills Cicadas, the adults don’t feed on them. In fact the adults spend their time sipping on the sweet nectar, which helps fuel the females during their challenging day job

Are you confused at this point about the Cicada Killer? I mean, why are they known for killing Cicadas yet don’t feed on them? There is a method to their madness and to describe it, we need to start at the beginning.

The Fight

It all starts when the adult Cicada Killers emerge from their burrow. Their first order of business is to fill up on nectar before the dangerous mating season begins. I say it is dangerous as the smaller, non-venomous males are incredibly aggressive. Several males will often fight over territory and mates at the same time. In fact, they have been known to fight during the act of mating. You have to give them credit for being able to multitask but it sure doesn’t sound pleasant.

Cicada Killer WaspUnfortunately for the males, the fighting and mating is the highlight of their life as they die shortly after mating. Although this may be a blessing in disguise as the life of the surviving female sounds more like a life working on the chain gang.

The Home Builder

For the female, once mating season is over the real work begins. She must fuel up on nectar before going out and digging her 2 foot deep burrow. In order to appreciate this, I would like you to measure out 2 feet with your hands. Now remember that this is an insect digging this hole! The female will eventually deposit her eggs into this burrow, however, she has one more task to complete before this can hapen. Every parent knows there are two main necessities you provide your children with – a roof over their head and food in their belly.

The Food Gatherer

Now it is time to go hunting for food. As you might have guessed the large, venomous female Cicada Killer is on the prowl for tasty Cicada. When the baby food is spotted, the Cicada Killer Wasp will attack the helpless insect by injecting a paralyzing venom into her prey. Notice that I said paralyzing and not killing. Yes the Cicada is still alive. At this point, the loving mother will drag, heave, push and even try to fly this large meal back to her home. Once she has enough food for her young (the Cicada Killer will bring home several Cicadas for her children) she will lay her eggs and call it a life. After all this hard work, the mother will perish never getting the chance to meet her children.Cicada Killer Wasp

So what about the paralyzed Cicada? You have a great memory. As mentioned, the adults do not kill the Cicada. They simply drug them and drag them home. It is the young grub form of the Cicada Killer Wasp that will silently feed on the paralyzed victim until they succumb to their injuries. It is not easy being a Cicada, is it?

 

Photo Sources:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/pachytime/2781829063/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/corydalus/214199224/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/horsepunchkid/7718451240/

Add Comment