Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Asian Hornets?

Advertisement


Question
Hornet_2015 07 25
Hornet_2015 07 25  
Have Giant Asian Hornets reached Dallas, TX?  I have a condo in Dallas I bought in 2001 but I've only been living in it since 2007. Since occupying it, I've been seeing an absolutely gigantic hornet or wasp periodically during the summer.  Just saw one tonight with my neighbor in the courtyard. She ran inside she was so scared of it.  It was larger than my little finger.  I had my iPhone and was snapping pics of it right and left but it wouldn't land, just kept zooming past us.  One of the pics does show it somewhat in flight.  Is this a Giant Asian Hornet that I've been seeing on TV? It's the largest social insect I've ever seen.  As large or larger than those huge flying roaches we have in Dallas that thankfully prefer the outdoors! It has a very beefy build, not wasp like.  I apologize for the quality of the photo but it was making sorties around us and it was the best I could get.

Answer
Hi, Greg:

As far as I know, "Giant Asian Hornets" have not arrived on the North American continent at all, let alone Texas.

Your image shows a UFO....No, I'm kidding!  It is an Eastern Cicada Killer wasp, Sphecius speciosus .  I wrote a blog post about this species here:

http://bugeric.blogspot.com/2013/12/eastern-cicada-killer.html

Cicada killers are solitary, each female digging her own burrow, but if the texture of the soil is right, many females may nest in close proximity to one another, giving the illusion of sociality.

Male cicada killers cannot sting, but they are territorial and highly aggressive towards intruders.  Males perch frequently in places where they can keep a sharp lookout for rival males, other insects, even birds, all of which they chase away.  Females are too busy hunting cicadas and digging burrows to mess with people.

Unless you walk around barefoot in a cicada killer nesting area, your chances of getting stung are pretty much zero.

Hope this puts your mind at ease.  These wasps are amazing, and seeing one fly in with a big, paralyzed cicada is a sight to behold.

Eric

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Eric R. Eaton

Expertise

I answer insect and spider identification questions ONLY. Attach images if possible. No "what bit me?", "what do I feed this bug in captivity?", or science fair project questions please. NO TECHNICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT INSECT PHYSIOLOGY.

Experience

Principal author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. Professional entomologist employed previously at University of Massachusetts, Chase Studio, Inc., and Cincinnati Zoo; contract work for West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Smithsonian Institution, and Portland (Oregon) State University.

Publications
Author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Missouri Conservationist magazine, Ranger Rick, Birds & Blooms, Timeline (journal of the Ohio Historical Society). I have contributed to several books as well.

Education/Credentials
Oregon State University, undergraduate major in entomology, did not receive degree.

Awards and Honors
One of the top 50 experts in all categories for AllExperts.com, 2009.

Past/Present Clients
Principal author of the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Smithsonian Institution (contract), Cincinnati Zoo (employer), Portland State University (contract), Chase Studio, Inc (employer), Arkansas Museum of Discovery (guest speaker). Currently seeking speaking engagements, leadership roles at nature festivals, workshops, and ecotours.

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.