Interesting facts about Cicada Killer wasps, why they are sometimes confused for ‘murder hornets’

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – A viewer sent us a photo of what he thought could be an Asian Giant Hornet, commonly known as a ‘murder hornet.’

Before you jump out of your seat,  he quickly learned it’s a Cicada Killer wasp.

He found it in a parking lot in downtown La Crosse.

According to UW Madison Horticulture, these wasps have become very common in the southern half of Wisconsin, and are about 1.5 inches long.

They usually appear about this time of year through September and are non-invasive.

Adults dig burrows in areas with bare ground, such as flower beds or under shrubs, and don’t typically cause damage.

They are solitary wasps and usually non-aggressive.

Males can’t even sting and in general, females only sting if handled by humans.

However, female Cicada Killers have quite the routine before laying eggs.

“A female can grab a cicada in mid-flight, will sting that cicada, paralyzing this large-bodied insect and then dragging it to a burrow that she’s dug, in order to allow for that paralyzed, but living body to be consumed by developing larva after she lays an egg on the cicada,” said Barrett Klein, UWL Associate Prof. of Biology, Entomology/Animal Behavior.

Klein says despite their physical features, they are actually closely related to bees.

He says because they are such big wasps, he’s not surprised they are confused for murder hornets.

But he reassured us that those won’t be in our area anytime soon, if ever.

If you do see Cicada Killer, just let it do its own thing, it has no intention of harming you.