Cicada Killer Wasps Aren't As Dangerous As They Seem


| LAST UPDATE 07/30/2021

By Eliza Gray
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Giant cicadas have been popping up all over North America this summer and have struck fear into the hearts of many. But scientists are here to tell us that they aren't nearly as much of a threat as they might appear.

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These large insects have a couple of things working against them. First of all, they have striking resemblances to the "murder hornets," an Asian giant hornet species that has been eviscerating honeybee colonies across Northwestern America for the past few years. Public awareness about the murder hornets has been at an all-time high and definitely fed into the panic about these killer cicadas. But according to Justin Schmidt, an entomologist from the University of Arizona, our panic is misplaced.

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The cicada killer wasps, though intimidating in name, got their monicker from hunting seasonal cicada species. But the public reaction was expected, especially considering that the four cicada species found in the United States look remarkably similar, making it, to the untrained eye, very difficult to tell them apart. As Schmidt put it, these cicada killer wasps are the "gentle giants of the wasp world," and warrant no concern or panic.

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