Sumer is icumen in

Sphecius speciosusI’ve heard a few Dog Day Cicadas (Tibicen) recently, at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and here in Cobble Hill, but it’s still early. In anticipation, the Cicada Killer Wasps (Sphecius speciosus) have begun to emerge. Males are generally seen first; they’re out to claim nesting territory.

I saw my first CKW of the summer on Tuesday. I assumed it was male since it looked so small. Wednesday before the monsoon I saw one in the same place. It really favors this wheel. If you look closely at the rear leg below, there seem to be spurs there at the joint, evidently a characteristic of females. Also, this view nicely shows the two pairs of wings, a defining characteristic of the Hymenoptera.

While scary to some people because of their size, these digger wasps are quite harmless to people.

6 Responses to “Sumer is icumen in”


  1. 1 lkewing313 July 20, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    Interesting . . . I saw several of these today (in Prospect Park and Park Slope) and wasn’t sure what they were.

  2. 3 lkewing313 August 19, 2015 at 6:33 pm

    Following up on this . . . today I saw a cicada killer dragging an immobilized cicada into its burrow. Shades of “Alien”! You may enjoy the blog post I just put up about it (and about a cowbird/vireo encounter). Here’s a link: http://notanotherbrooklynblog.com/2015/08/19/brooklyn-nature-red-in-tooth-and-claw/

    • 4 mthew August 20, 2015 at 10:31 am

      Pretty cool. Ive never seen a Cow Bird in action in another nest species’ nest, but I know they are all over Prospect angling for nests spots. Human decimation of the bison and deforestation brought them to such prominence.

      • 5 lkewing313 August 20, 2015 at 10:42 am

        That’s interesting in turn – as I was reading up on cowbirds and brood parasitism I came across the impact of deforestation, which makes intuitive sense – but I didn’t see anything (and hadn’t given any thought to) the disappearance of bison.

      • 6 mthew August 20, 2015 at 12:34 pm

        Cow Birds followed the herds, a rich source of insects, hence no fixed addresses.


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