Bug of the Week: Cicada Wasp

The cicadas showed up a week or so late this year. They usually are singing by Father’s Day.


But now they are out in full force, buzzing happily.

On Monday, I saw my first one of these.


Even though it is far away, you can tell it is a big wasp.

What does it have to do with cicadas?


This is the Western cicada killer wasp, Sphecius grandis. They catch and sting cicadas. The female wasp carries the cicada to a nest she dug in the ground. The wasp lays an egg on the cicada, which will hatch into a larva. The larva uses the cicada as breakfast, lunch and dinner for several weeks. After pupating, the wasp remains underground until the cicadas emerge next year.

Here’s a video of a wasp carrying a cicada, looking for her nest. The person who took the video thinks the nest may have been covered over by construction materials. You can see her clean her antennae and do orientation flights, so that may very well be the case.

Notice this wasp is a darker color because it is another species.


  1. Mike B.

    I don’t think I’ve ever noticed that wasp before- interesting photos and video. We have had cicadas buzzing for a few weeks now, so I’ll have to keep my eyes open for it.

  2. Roberta

    Good luck looking. I often find things once I know to look 🙂

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