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A Helping Hand

August 18, 2014

“Cicada killer” season is winding down and this year’s colony has been spread mainly towards the back of the boxwood garden.
The cicada killers still around at this point are the last of the hard working females (Check this archived post out to see just how hard they work), who dig their burrows then drag paralyzed cicadas down in order to lay an egg on them then entomb them both in a chamber. They are constantly reappearing from the surrounding trees, approaching in lumbering flights with the much larger cicada in tow underneath; in between they hover and put up a pretty good bluff to try and intimidate you to move away from their burrow.

The other day I noticed something odd; I was viewing the abdomen of what appeared to be a cicada having a seizure just under the edge of a shed door (pardon the hastily snapped phone pic’s focus):

As it wobbled back and forth it became obvious one of my hard working cicada killer gals was struggling to pull her prey into the shed. So I opened the door and there she was with this cicada and a couple others that she had given up on trying to get through the crack at the edge of the shed floor.

They like to select areas with dirt surfaces for their burrows’ gateway; I’ve had them come under the door of one of my workshops and dig burrows a couple of feet into the shop. This one was pretty clever to figure out she could slide through the crack and have a sheltered burrow entrance underneath the shed floor. Unfortunately, she didn’t measure her gate ahead of time to insure her fatter bodied cicada prey would fit through as well.

I felt bad for this little insect and had to help her out. A handy shovel was enough to to pry the crack open just a little bit more, all the while with her buzzing around in front of my face trying to scare me off. Just as soon as the crack creaked open slightly, I stepped back and she went right back to work, quickly grabbing the freshest cicada and disappearing underneath to her burrow.


She still doesn’t like it much when I come in and out of the shed, but as usual she is all buzz and no bite.

And this concludes the 2014 cicada killer update.

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