Ok the subject this week is not dogs, rather a particular wasp. This past week, a number of calls and questions have been directed my way about a wasp that dive bombs individuals. No one has reported being stung. So what is this pesky little bomber insect that has resulted in some households having the mailman refusing to deliver mail! It is the cicada killer wasp. No fear though, only the female can sting which only happens if one would hold a wasp in the hand or some other silly mishandling.
The males cannot sting and they are the one's typically seen defending the nests. And for the sake of my marriage, no more discussion will occur about the fact that for the second week in a row, we are talking about a creature where the female does harm through biting or stinging and the male is innocentů..
Because this wasp kills cicadas, it is actually considered a beneficial insect. While visiting one home in Clay County last week, the site of this large wasp carrying a large cicada would remind one of the space shuttle riding piggy-back of a jet after the space shuttle has landed in California.
It is quite a site to see the 1.5 inch wasp carrying in flight the two inch cicada, equal or heavier in weight, that it has precisely paralyzed.
However the entertainment and amusement of this creature ends when one has more than 100 abuzz the front porch and landscape area and residence also begins in the backyard and neighboring areas. The cicada killer wasp prefers well drained areas and sandy or lighter soils. Several of the areas where these have been noted are in raised flower beds and areas where soil is loose from lots of old, decomposed mulch.
The wasp burrows, while messy, are quite amazing. The one and one-half inch opening leads into an oblique tunnel that runs for 12-18 inches and up to six to ten inches deep.
Four to fives cells for nurseries are created by the female off of the main tunnel. The female locates a cicada, precisely paralyzes it, and brings it back to the tunnel.
The cicada may even be buzzing though paralyzed. The female lays an egg, drags the cicada into the chamber, and seals off the chamber. The egg hatches in two or three days. The larva in the nurseries will feed on the living, paralyzed cicada from the inside out and survive to start the cycle again.
Purdue pubs recommend dusting 5 percent carbaryl (Sevin) at the entrance to tunnels to safely control these wasps.
This can be better accomplished with a turkey baster (label it so it does not get used next Thanksgiving) to blow dust into the tunnels. However, many are reporting that this is not working this year. And the one site visited this past week was unrealistic for one to find and treat all of the holes with more than 100 flying around. The suggestion in this scenario is to use 10 percent carbaryl which is more difficult to find but should work better.
This product will also be more efficient to defend against Japanese beetles if they are problematic in the area.
For infested areas, spraying or heavier dusting of areas concentrated with tunnel entrances will be necessary. Some have reported success with heavier mulch layers and weed fabric barriers for areas with raised beds.
Keep in mind that these wasps will be dying anyway by early to mid September.
Also check out Purdue publication E-254 entitled "Cicada Killers" available at the Extension website for Owen or Clay County at www.ces.purdue.-edu/counties.htm and click on either Owen or Clay County on the map and go to the link for Ag & Natural Resources (ANR) news columns to find this article and its references.
You can contact the local Purdue Extension Office by calling 829-5020 ext. 14 in Owen County or 448-9041 in Clay County for more information or publication copies regarding this week's column topic or to RSVP for upcoming events. It is always best to call first to assure items are ready when you arrive and to RSVP for programs. While most publications are free, some do have a fee. All times listed are Eastern Time.
August 7 Owen County Farmers Market Planning, Spencer, 7 p.m.
August 8-19 Indiana State Fair
August 16 Owen Co. Ag Economic Development Initiative, 8 a.m.
August 21 SWCD Conservation Expo, Clay County
August 20 I-69 Planning Meeting, Eastern Greene HS, 7 p.m.
August 21 I-69 Planning Meeting, Morgan Co. Admin Bldg, 1 p.m.
August 21 I-69 Planning Meeting, Bloomington North HS, 6 p.m.
August 23 Poison Prevention Workshop, Methodist Hospital, 12:30 PM
August 24 Alternative Sewer System Workshop, Vermillion Co.; 10 a.m.
August 28 Clay Co. Ag Economic Development Initiative, 10 a.m.
September 5 Farm Bureau Drainage School, Indy, 9 a.m.
September 5 Purdue Forage Management Workshop, West Lafayette
September 18 Riverwatch Training, Bloomington
September 19 Poison Prevention Workshop, Methodist Hospital, 12:30 p.m.
September 27-29 State Master Gardener Conference, Evansville