Animal Species:Cicada-killer wasps

Cicada-killer wasps are sometimes mistaken for hornets because of their impressive size. However, there are no hornets in Australia.

Cicada-killer wasp

Andrew Donnelly © Australian Museum

Standard Common Name

Cicada-killer wasps

Size range

4 cm

Distribution

Cicada-killer wasps are found throughout Australia.

Habitat

Cicada-killer wasps are found in urban areas, forests and woodlands, and heath.

Feeding and Diet

Cicada-killer wasps hunt in the trees for cicadas, which feed on sap using their piercing mouthparts. Once found, the wasp quickly stings and paralyses its victim. The heavy burden is then flown or dragged to the wasp's underground nest where an egg is laid on it. Having provided its unhatched larva with fresh food, the wasp then seals the nest. Sometimes the cicada-killer wasp returns to the exact spot where it captured its prey to feed on the sap that now leaks from the hole made in the tree by the cicada.

Danger to humans and first aid

Cicada-killer wasps are large and have a potentially painful sting. However they are not aggressive and are very unlikely to use their venom on humans unless extremely provoked. The best advice is to leave them alone. An ice pack may be used to relieve the pain of the sting. If there is evidence of an allergic reaction, medical attention should be sought.

Classification

Genus:
Exeirus
Family:
Sphecidae
Superfamily:
Sphecoidea
Suborder:
Apocrita
Order:
Hymenoptera
Class:
Insecta
Subphylum:
Uniramia
Phylum:
Arthopoda
Kingdom:
Animalia

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Tags wasps, insects, arthropods, invertebrates, identification, wildlife of sydney,

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