Cicada killer wasps appeared as early as July 7, in our yard. This year we had a cold winter, with snows that appear to have stymied even the nasty, invasive Argentine fire ant. But June was dry and hot. July came with rains, and cicada killers don’t like wet soil to dig in.
For that matter, we don’t have many cicadas, either.
Plus, we had to tear down a planter box attached to the dining room window, since it hid termites too well. No doubt that planter had young from the cicada killers in it.
Early yesterday evening, as we finished dinner, we watched the house finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) escorting their young to the bird feeders, the cardinal “babies” (Cardinalis cardinalis) breaking out of their baby feathering, we looked for the family of red-bellied woodpeckers (Melanerpes carolinus) – and there it was: One lone cicada hawk zooming across the patio, yellow-and-black striped abdomen standing out among the other paper wasps (almost certainly Sphecius speciosa).
Earlier at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:
- Most popular cicada-killer post, from 2007: “Cicadas, cicada-killers are back!”
- Photo of our local guys, from their 2008 campaign (some irony: The photo was taken on the lip of the now-removed termite-enabling planter).
- “Cicada hawks a month early – another sign of climate change?” (lots of variation with the weather; need more data)
- Cicada killer on a rose, photo from 2009
- Good post on the cicadas the cicada killers kill, at Bug Girl
- Prof. Chuck Holliday’s cicada killer page, from Lafayette University (sorta gives new potential meaning to the phrase, “Lafayette, we are here!”)
- Several different species in the Americas; here’s a key to tell them apart
- Texas A&M entry in their field guide to insects