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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/giant flying insect with wicked stinger

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giant insect
giant insect  
Hello,
Can you identify giant buzzing, flying insect with wicked stinger?  Seen at 19:10 on Fri Aug 14, 2015 in Chapin, SC.  It is black with yellow spots.  It's hard to see how large it is here because I couldn't get very close (its also really fast).

Thanks!

Answer
Hi, Tonya:

The image is plenty good enough to identify the insect as an "Eastern Cicada Killer" wasp, Sphecius speciosus .  Each female is solitary and digs her own burrow.  Males, which lack a stinger, are territorial and so often interpreted as being aggressive.  Here is a blog post I wrote about them:

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

That should answer most of your questions, and provide you with links to even more information.  These are spectacular wasps that pose no threat to people or pets.  That said, I would not walk barefoot among a patch where females are nesting, lest I risk stepping on one accidentally.

Eric

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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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.

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