Is The Eastern Cicada Killer Wasp In Louisiana Dangerous To Humans?


It is not uncommon for residents of Louisiana to encounter a variety of different wasp species during the spring, summer and fall seasons. The most commonly encountered wasps within Louisiana include the southern yellow jacket, the eastern yellow jacket, the European hornet and a variety of paper wasp species. Many people are under the impression that yellow jackets and hornets are not wasps, but this is incorrect, as both yellow jackets and hornets are species that belong to a particular wasp group. Another wasp species, the cicada-killer wasp, is also encountered with some regularity during the warmer seasons in Louisiana, but unlike most wasp species, the cicada-killer is a solitary wasp species. Instead of working in a group with other members of their species to build a nest, cicada-killers live a solitary lifestyle within burrows that they dig into the ground. Although the eastern cicada-killer wasp is considered a beneficial insect for preying on insect pests, these wasps can become a nuisance in residential lawns, and they are capable of inflicting painful stings.

The cicada-killer wasp typically appears in Louisiana during mid July, and they are one of the largest wasp species on record, as males typically grow to become 1.25 inches in length, while females grow to a full 2 inches in length. Their large size, fast flying speed and similar appearance to a yellow jacket makes these wasps appear intimidating, but in reality, cicada-killer wasps are not particularly aggressive toward humans or pets, as long as they are not disturbed. Males are territorial, and therefore aggressive toward other males of their species, but this aggression is not a threat to humans, as males do not possess a stinger. Females spend much of their life digging burrows into the ground, but the venom they produce is designed to merely disable their prey, not kill them, making their sting relatively less painful than a yellow jacket sting. However, humans have been known to sustain cicada-killer stings after unknowingly disturbing the insects near their burrows. Stings are particularly likely to be inflicted on children while they play outdoors and on adults while they mow their lawn.

Have you ever spotted cicada-killer hovering around their burrow?

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