Counting the days. This time of year leaves me increasingly restless, waiting expectantly until the first eastern cicada-killer wasp (Sphecius speciosus) appears.
My favorite insect. Gentle giants. Docile and inquisitive. Beautiful. Intriguing.
Years of drought and the subsequent dearth of cicadas wiped out two of the six colonial nesting sites in the area. The largest, the one that surrounds my home on all sides, was nothing but a shadow of its former self when last year only a dozen or so of the wasps emerged for their short summer lives. In good years, nearly a hundred adults strike fear in the hearts of passersby whilst simultaneously providing me with weeks of entertainment and drama, not to mention protection (I’ve always said I don’t need a guard dog in summer because I have giant wasps instead).
Thankfully, last year offered a glorious resurgence of cicadas in such vast numbers that I suspect the remaining wasp colonies will once again fill the air with clouds of buzzing wings.
So I wait.
[note these photos are of males; the females are significantly larger; see this post for some bad photos showing a mating pair as it will give you a sense of the size disparity]