Giant Cicada-killing Wasp Widespread In Central Georgia

August 3rd, 2015

Giant Cicada-killing Wasp Widespread In Central Georgia

Residents of the Magnolia Manor retirement community in Macon were pretty puzzled and a tad bit alarmed when a 1 ½ inch wasp was found by William Elrod.

“I was walking along and I found it and I got looking at it, and I said, ‘That don’t belong here, it don’t live here,'” Elrod said.

After some animated speculation with his friends, he submitted the specimen to the Museum of Arts and Sciences for inspection.

It turns out that the much fussed-about insect was a pretty common resident and actually widespread in Central Georgia. Known as the “gentle giant”, because only a higher-than-normal level of provocation could get them to sting a human, the giant insect that Elrod encountered was actually the cicada-killing wasp.

Despite its moniker, the humongous wasp is anything but “gentle” to its natural prey, the onerous cicada. Cicadas are insects who burrow into the soil and feed on sap, sucking nutrients from the roots of crops. In small numbers, they can be relatively harmless, but in uncontrolled populations, they can do serious damage to trees and other plant life. Cicadas also make loud, high-pitched shrill sounds that can be a bit disconcerting when done in large numbers. To the cicada-killing wasp, however, these sounds signal that it’s time for lunch.

The female wasps will hunt in groups, find a cicada, sting it, and drag the paralyzed prey, stuffing it down into their tunnels where their young will feed off of it.

Since cicadas, in their numbers, can be a threat to plant life, the presence of the cicada-killer wasps serve as natural pest control to keep the cicada population in check.

If the residents of Magnolia Manor or indeed, the folks of Central Georgia are in any way anxious about the potential damage a rampant population of cicadas may unleash on their plant life, they can rest assured that as long their gentle giant cicada-killer wasps are just as abundant, the spread of and threat that cicadas pose can be kept under control, naturally — one less thing for their pest control professionals to worry about.

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