Garden Talk

with Rebecca Jordi

Q: What is this large wasp?

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A:  You brought in a Giant Cicada killer or giant ground hornet, Sphecious speciosus, which is the common Florida species. This insect can grow to almost 2 inches long and easily one of the largest wasps found in Florida.  The females of the common Florida species hunt Tibicen spp. cicadas and can dig four-foot burrows in the ground with several branches and cells.  Between one and four cicadas are deposited per cell depending on the size of the adult cicada. Cicada killers are usually considered beneficial insects since they destroy plant-feeding cicadas. Also, they rarely sting except when the females are handled. However, under certain circumstances, such as when elderly persons or young children are present in the breeding areas, one may want to discourage their presence. This can be done by eliminating or reducing the breeding area, which usually consists of exposed, sandy soil. This area can be mulched or covered with grass. Labeled insecticides can be applied to the nesting sites to kill the wasps.


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