This past weekend I ran into something very foreign to me. As I left my home, an insect flew from my walking path across my lawn and back again. I analyzed the bug in flight and noticed it had the black and yellow warning signs of a bee, but it was too large to be any honey harvester that I have encountered before.

I called for my wife to come out and take a look. Neither of us could identify the insect and we retreated to the house to look on Google for the answer. Thoughts of some apocalyptic swarm coming to our neighborhood raced through our heads as we went searching for the answer. What we discovered was less killer bee and more like a bumbling bee (yes, I am referring to something that is awkward).

The cicada killer wasp (S. speciosus) is not a threat to human beings (despite the large hook-like stinger on its backside). They are focused on cicadas and really don’t care if you are in the area. But like many bees, they do not like being stepped on, squeezed in a hand or harassed. My wife learned this as she tried to take a photo of the insect only to be dived bombed a few times until she came back inside.

Theses wasps burrow into the ground where they take cicadas for their larva to consume. One of the more interesting parts about the wasp is that the females are able to predetermine the sex of their larvae. This is done because it takes more females to create new generations of wasp.

After collecting all this information, I still wasn’t happy to have the wasp in my yard. Having two young children running through the grass that the wasp could be hanging out in is a little nerve-racking. My daughter was already stung on her foot this summer and it was a very tumultuous event.

This isn’t the first time that I have run into an insect or plant that I was unfamiliar with.

Growing up, my dad and I noticed a weird bush-like thing that started to grow in our garden. My dad was worried it could be something illegal, but after consulting with a few people we discovered that it would actually grow into a tree. My parents transplanted the tree from our original home when we moved and it currently is in the backyard at my mom’s home.

Talking with other staff members, I was sent a photo of another insect that the submitter and I have no idea what it could be. He has looked to find out what the insect is to no avail.

I don’t know why it seems like since I have moved that I have started to see insects that are vastly different from one side of the town to the other, but it does keep life interesting. I am just glad that I don’t have to invest in a special version of Raid the next time I head outdoors.

Zach Stich is the managing editor of The Fergus Falls Daily Journal. His column appears each Thursday.


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