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Cicada killers working hard

August 16, 2011

(Bug/nature nerd post warning)

Last year I posted a couple of times about the cicada killer wasps around my house, here and again here.

This year “my” colony has come back strong and the larger females are working out of their solitary burrows in almost every area of my back and side yard.

Funny things, they are all bark and no bite when it comes to people and will aggressively buzz in front of you as you approach their home base. But they can be ignored;they are always bluffing and don’t sting people.

Anyway, the point of this post.

Sunday it was breezy and I noticed what looked like a drunk hummingbird heading towards me in a slow and wobbly flight. She was about 40 feet out when I spotted it and as it got closer I confirmed it was a cicada killer with a much larger cicada paralyzed & under its “fuselage”.

It was losing altitude fast and soon it crash landed in the grass well short of the main colony area. As I watched she dragged her much larger prey across grass, straw & dirt to the foundation of Lizzie’s house. Then she started climbing- up the foundation and siding until she reached the roof. She was using wings and legs- buzzing and walking up at the same time, but her back legs aren’t used since they are gripping the cicada. She kept going a little further up then took off again, loosing altitude and she circled around the front towards her burrow.

Apparently the standard operating procedure for these critters is to pluck cicadas from the taller and closer trees because the payload runs a little heavy for sustained flight (in other words they become slightly underpowered “gliders”.) This one was climbing to gain the altitude, in order to relaunch and transport the prey the rest of the way to the burrow; there were no trees nearby so Lizzie’s had to suffice.

She cleared the sill:

In no time she was halfway up:

And a closeup before she got out of range- this one is probably 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 inches long and the cicada is considerably larger. Check out her the little “hands” grabbing the contours while the wings are buzzing away:

(Amazingly, mrs cohutt wasn’t nearly as interested in this as I was. Go figure. )

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 16, 2011 6:42 am

    Love to watch the Cicada Killers. The boys got to see their first one 2 years ago and it was a fascinating family get together LOL

    • August 16, 2011 8:08 pm

      And they keep ne’er-do-wells from coming too close on the alley side- 😉

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