My beloved

A male cicada-killer wasp (Sphecius speciosus) standing firm to protect his territory (20080607_06233)

My favorite insect.  Anywhere.  In any way.  At any time.

Sphecius speciosus, the cicada-killer wasp.

Today I stepped outside for a few moments between pages and conference calls and projects so that I might capture a photo or two of this magnificent, endearing, beguiling, intimidating, captivating leviathan of the insect world.

One of the largest wasp species on the planet, these gentle giants have been my friends and neighbors for many years.  Their colony thrives outside my front door, from the garage to the patio.

A close-up of the head of a male cicada-killer wasp (Sphecius speciosus) as he rests on the ground (20080607_06243)

Yet even as I stood near this male taking his picture, one of my neighbors walked by and mentioned she was terrified of them.  This appears to be her first experience with this species.

I offered assurances that they posed no threat to her, that they were docile and easily shooed away, that most of them had no ability to sting her while those who did had no interest in doing so, yet I fear my explanations found no harbor in ears deafened by ignorance and dread.

Besides, if you didn’t know better, wouldn’t you consider this a threat:

A close-up of the abdomen, a false stinger, of a male cicada-killer wasp (Sphecius speciosus) as he rests on the ground (20080607_06242)

At least 30 mm long, this male, who has no stinger, still seems a formidable enemy, especially given his tendency to be aggressive.  And the females with their massive size well over 40 mm…  Well, one can understand the trepidation people might feel.

But what will they do about it?  Will they take action to destroy that which they do not understand?  That much I believe possible, if not probable.

A male cicada-killer wasp (Sphecius speciosus) facing me as he protects his territory (20080607_06226)

Yet these beautiful creatures have shared many years with me, and all without any aggression betwixt our two species.

I warned my neighbor of the impending swarm of these wasps even as I spoke of their equable nature.  I assured her that these winged behemoths felt more fright of her than she could ever feel toward them, that a single motion from her would send them into retreat.

Nevertheless, I believe I now face the end of this colony, the destruction of my beloved wasps.

Only time will tell.

Until I move or until I can no longer protect these marvelous monsters, I shall endeavor to capture more photos of them, enjoy their benevolent company and wallow in the antics of this insect that holds such a dear place in my heart.

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