Eastern cicada killer mating swarm

Here’s a video of eastern cicada killers (Hymenoptera: Crabronidae: Sphecius speciosus) mating. Their activity attracted my attention, so I put myself in the middle of the mating swarm with hundreds of these buzzing around. Considering that they’re one of North America’s largest wasps at about an inch and a half long, that could make a person nervous. The females are capable of inflicting painful stings if necessary, and males can sting with “pseudo-stringers” that lack venom. As you can see here the males fight vigorously for mates, but they and the females both tend to ignore humans. Stings are uncommon and I’ve never been stung by one.

After mating the males die, and the females go about laying their eggs. A female will locate, sting, and paralyze a cicada (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) and carry it to a nest she has dug in the ground. She will then lay a single egg on the cicada to serve as food for her larva when it hatches. The female will do this repeatedly until she too dies.

Each larva will hatch several days later, eat its cicada provision, and then make a cocoon. They overwinter like this until they emerge as adults the next spring.

This was recorded 07/08/2012 at Side Cut Metropark near Maumee, Ohio.

About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Entomology, Insect Love and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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