View Full Version : Big Buzzing Beasties: please tell me they are:

Aug. 2, 2011, 04:49 PM
Cicada killing wasps? Please?

I don't have a picture unfortunately, but recently there have been a number of GINORMOUS hornet/waspy looking insects buzzing around the farms I work at in northern VA (Marshall/Delaplane area). They are approximately the size of two finger joints (2-2.5") and sound like a C-5 cargo plane when they buzz by. Kind of a reddish torso and vibrant yellow-and-black striped butt. They seem to be solitary, I haven't seen more than two or three at a time and they seem to air-wrestle like carpenter bees when I see more than one in an area.

I got stung by some yellowjackets a couple weeks ago, so I am feeling very out of sorts about stinging insects at the moment. I am hoping these are eastern cicada killing wasps (which don't sting and kill uber-obnoxious cicadas) and not some giant hornet that will suck my soul through its stinger or something like that that my irrational mind is running away with.

Aug. 2, 2011, 08:56 PM
Do you have any new earthen works near you? We had the cicada killers here when we built our barn a few years ago. They like to dig holes in newly excavated dirt to burry the cicadas they catch. Yes, they are big and extremely noisy and fit your description. Check out http://www.ca.uky.edu/entomology/entfacts/ef004.asp

Aug. 2, 2011, 09:27 PM
WNT, I think I know what you are seeing, but I don't know what they are called, and my searching isn't coming up with anything useful. These guys are thick all the way up and down their body? Not with the very pronounced head and body? I'm still looking...

Aug. 2, 2011, 10:30 PM
Sounds like a European Hornet. We do get them around here.

They are huge. Really huge. But they usually don't bother anyone unless you disturb their nest or step on them. Their sting is like the sting of a smaller wasp.

Not sure if that is what you are seeing but you could search the net for photos of this wasp to verify.

Is this it?


Aug. 3, 2011, 12:00 AM
If they are really that big without exaggeration then I think they are probably Eastern Cicada Killers

Look at pictures of European Hornets and ECKs. The ECKs have a much more pronounced wasp waist (or whatever the technical term might be on an actual wasp) and are much larger.

Aug. 3, 2011, 09:03 AM
Cicada killers. We're getting overrun by them. They're digging all around and IN our indoor arena. They really won't bother you unless really provoked.

Aug. 3, 2011, 10:09 PM
Well, they don't look quite like the European hornet, and my friend whose barn I was watching found the holes they are going into. They must take advantage of looking like a hornet to avoid getting eaten. Plus, the timing is right for the cicada killers to be out and active. I think I'm okay, and won't continue having freeze-up moments when I hear or see one buzzing by. Thanks for your input, everyone!

PS: no exaggeration, I might have a somewhat irrational fear of them, but they really are THAT BIG!!

T-storm chick
Aug. 3, 2011, 10:32 PM
I know...they look really terrifying! My guess would be they are cicada killers. They don't bite people and if you can get over your fear of them they are actually kind of cool to watch. I've seen them come zooming up; stop dead in a hover, then stay there and just seem to look at something for about 15 seconds. Then they do a 90 degree turn and hover in that direction for 15 seconds. Then, they turn back and do it all over again! It's like they are checking things out.