You may have heard of “killing hornets” or giant Asian hornets. The insects made headlines around the world after a small number were found in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States in 2019 and 2020. Currently, they are only found in the far northwest of Washington State in the United States, thanks to which Partly to a targeted campaign to track them down and destroy their nests.
The discovery of these aggressive two-inch-diameter animals, known to kill entire colonies of bees, has caused an uproar in the United States. Many people mistake a particular type of domestic hornet as the killer hornet. According to entomologist Justin Schmidt of the University of Arizona, what these people saw was a harmless American wasp with a terrifying name: the cicada killer.
This name is very appropriate. Huge females can reach a size of four centimeters. They hunt exclusively on cicadas, which they overpower and inject poison. This paralyzes the cicada, after which the hornet flies its prey to its underground nest. Cicada killers have emerged from their nests since mid-July and have been buzzing in the gardens ever since.
Wasps prey on cicadas that hatch in certain seasons. These are a more reliable food source than the once-a-year species, such as “Bread X,” which was seen again last May in the eastern United States. There are four types of North American cicada killers that are very similar in appearance and behavior.
Although they look intimidating due to their size and yellow-brown color, the killer cicada does not pose any danger to humans; They are “the gentle giants among wasps,” according to Schmidt. Males cannot sting, and females, unlike giant Asian hornets, avoid humans and rarely use their arms. Schmidt says you will only be in danger if you catch them. The researcher has already been pricked thousands of times and accordingly developed the Schmidt sting pain index.
If you are bitten at all, the bite of a fatal female cicada will hardly hurt you. It’s no worse than a pin prick and less pain than a sting from smaller species of bees, says ecologist Joe Coelho, who studies these predatory insects at Quincy University in Illinois. Study researcher Shunichi Makino said in a previous interview that the Asian giant hornet’s sting is much more painful and resembles “stabbing with a burning needle.”
Despite the fact that cicada killers are “huge looking and scary, they can’t do anything. They can’t stand your stabbing, because then they’ll fall through the cracks. It’s amazing how people are afraid of them just based on their looks,” Coelho said.
How does fishing work?
Female killer cicadas use their large eyes and excellent eyesight to find well-camouflaged cicadas in trees. They attack cockroaches and inject them with a mixture of fast-acting toxins that prevent the cicadas from moving. Nobody knows exactly how it’s done, according to Coelho. But this turns the prey into a kind of zombie, which makes it better to feed the zombies. Research by a former doctoral student at Coelho shows that paralyzed, toxin-treated cicadas can survive longer than their normal, healthy counterparts.
If the wasp hunt is successful, it has to return its heavy prey to its nest. In doing so, it uses its powerful wings, while holding the cicada with its middle legs. Coelho’s research shows that the “eastern cicada killers” (Beautiful Sphecius) are capable of killing and moving cicadas more than 80 percent heavier than themselves — nearly twice as heavy — which is physically impossible. The researcher explains that they do this by “cheating” somewhat: they climb up a tree with the cicada or other vertical surface and then fly as fast as they can toward their nest. If necessary, they repeat this several times until they come back, after which they pull the cicadas underground.
The female then lays an egg on her paralyzed prey in an underground chamber that serves as a food source for the developing larvae. Wasps need only one cicada to produce male offspring. Two cicadas are needed for the development of the female, which is about twice the size of the male. As soon as one or two cicadas are in the room, the female closes the room. She brings another room and keeps looking for it.
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