Monthly Archives: August 2014

Today’s cool new thing I learned

We played golf this morning at the same local course we usually play. Today as I walked up to the third tee, I found myself surrounded by big yellow-and-black buzzing insects that looked a bit like yellowjackets. They seemed to be digging nests in the ground but fortunately I didn’t step on any.

When we ran into a course maintenance crew, I mentioned the insects, figuring that though I didn’t get stung, the next person might not be so lucky.

The groundskeeper told me they aren’t stinging wasps at all. They’re a kind of mud-dauber wasp called a cicada killer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sphecius_speciosus.

They’re called cicada killers because the female paralyzes cicadas with her sting, then carries the victim to the burrow to be food for her larvae. They’re very non-aggressive to people. The groundskeeper said if you scuff over one of the burrows, they just come out and open it again, then go back into protective mode. If you bury it again, they do the same thing.

They’re technically solitary wasps even though dozens of them will live in the same area and two or three females will sometimes share the same burrow.

So that’s the cool thing I learned today ­čÖé What about you?