Usually, when one first meets a Cicada Killer, their first impression is one of intimidation. They look like giant pulsating Yellow Jackets and by the time your brain processes the fact that you’ve seen one, they are usually already strafing circles around you like a military helicopter waiting for launch orders. These would be the males of the species by the way. I should also mention that the males have no stingers and this is really just them checking you out to see if you are either a suitable female or another male who needs to get the hell out of his territory. They won’t actually attack you (though my wife at first thought differently based on her run-ins with them).
We had a nasty male who decided to chill out by our front porch for a couple weeks and basically harass us every time we wanted to come or go. I saw through his charade and defended my wife’s honor by chasing him off like the little punk that he is (not really). He moved into the back yard… I’m okay with that arrangement since he kindly agreed to pose for the above photo. His place is kind of a hole in the ground though… literally.
Now let’s talk about the female of this species. She is the one that puts the “killer”‘ in Cicada Killer. As you can tell by the name, she kills Cicadas. Unlike the male, the female does have a stinger which she uses only to paralyze her prey. She won’t sting a human unless threatened directly by physical contact. After she paralyzes a cicada, she literally carries it back home and into the burrow.
The cicada is now going to be food for her future young. She will drag it down into a nest cell, lay an egg on it, and seal it up. The egg will hatch and the larva will be happy to have something to eat while it matures in its little bunker. The burrow can have over 10 of these nest cells, each one containing one or more cicadas depending on the sex of the egg. Females get more since they are larger than the males and require more food to grow. This new generation will emerge next summer when they are fully mature and ready to intimidate you.