Why You Should Leave This Killer Wasp Alone | NBC Chicago

Why You Should Leave This Killer Wasp Alone

Sphecius speciosus kill cicadas that emerge each year



    (Published Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013)

    A type of killer wasp has moved into the Chicago area, but they're not after humans. In fact, nature lovers want to put the word out: don't swat the wasp called the "cicada killer."

    "They're called cicada killers and they look huge, so they're kind of scary but really these guys want nothing to do with us," explained urban ecologist Steve Sullivan.

    As the name suggests, the wasps -- Sphecius speciosus -- are after the cicadas that emerge from the ground each year and invade neighborhood trees.

    The wasps do sting, but mostly to paralyze their prey.

    "They'll pick it up and fly it down to those little burrows. They dig burrows, kind of like prairie dogs, and they'll stash the cicada down there and they'll lay the egg on it," said Sullivan.

    The larvae then feeds on the cicada, emerging as an adult next spring.