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Cicada Killers

Thursday, August 1, 2019

With the calendar flipping to August, here at Terrace Park Country Club we continue to enjoy a typical Midwestern summer.  The weather is hot, the air is sticky, and the familiar chorus of Cicada’s fills the air.  With the arrival of the Cicada also comes the arrival of the Eastern Cicada Killers (Spheciusspeciosus), a parasitic wasp that preys on the clumsy Cicada.

They are considered a beneficial insect due to the fact that they prey on Cicadas, which can cause extensive damage to deciduous trees.  If you’ve never seen one of these behemoths, their size can be quite unnerving.  Averaging between 1 to 2 inches, they look like they mean business but unless you are a Cicada, they are actually quite docile.  In fact, only the females have stingers that they use to paralyze the Cicada, take it back to their burrow and lay their egg on it.  Once the egg hatches, the tiny wasp grub feeds on the Cicada and emerges as an adult.  Adult Cicada Killers are solitary wasps that typically do not bother humans other than to satisfy their curiosity.  Even if swatted at, they will not turn aggressive and will often times fly away.

Unfortunately, they don’t come without headaches.  As mentioned before, due to their size many people do feel threatened by them and we do get quite a few comments about them when they show up here at TPCC.  Additionally, they prefer sand soils for their burrows and on a golf course that generally means bunker banks, tees, and even worse greens.  Thankfully, we haven’t had any burrow on the greens here in a number of years, but they can be very problematic even just off the edges.  Most of the time, we will not mess with any of the burrows as they are considered beneficial. Should treatment be necessary, we do not use any chemical or pesticide.  To be honest, the best method to take care of them is by blunt force with a racquet.  It offers a good opportunity to practice our hand/eye coordination, and more importantly, we aren’t applying any unnecessary pesticides.

More info: Here and Here

So, the next time you are out on the course and you see a giant wasp flying around you, don’t get frightened.  They are just out looking to turn the volume down on the summertime buzz from Cicadas!

Scott LesChander
Grounds Superintendent

Cicada Killer Wasp hanging out on a leaf on #2.

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Barry Vogelmeier, 8/2/2019 6:35:38 PM EST   55555