Are Murder Hornets in KELOLAND? Entomologists fielding questions

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Extension offices in KELOLAND are receiving more calls than ever about huge, scary-looking hornets.

With the recent discovery of Giant Asian Hornets in the state of Washington, some people are concerned the aggressive insects sometimes called “Murder Hornets” have arrived in South Dakota.

Madilynn and Weston are fascinated by insects in the backyard.

However, like a lot of people in KELOLAND, they spotted something that caught their attention: these large, intimidating wasps; nearly two inches long.

They’re so big, they’re hard to miss.

“I’ve gotten quite a few voicemails of folks who are like I think I have murder hornets in my yard,” said SDSU Urban Entomologist, Amanda Bachmann.

Bachmann says although they may look like the aggressive Asian hornets, they’re not.

In fact, these cicada killers are common to this part of the country; recently moving towards the northwest part of the state.

“Cicada killers have this sort of distinct banding pattern on their abdomen, said Bachman.

And they’re not dangerous, to people anyway.

“They actually hunt down the cicada’s, and paralyze them and drag them back to their nest in the ground that they make in order to lay the eggs and then their grubs feed on the cicadas,” said professor of Entomology Paul Johnson.

Yellow Jackets and Paper Wasps are much more menacing to humans. The cicada killer looks pretty intimidating though.

“You can see her stinger has protruded in death so you can see they do have a very significant stinger but they really only use it against cicadas,” said Bachman.

The male wasps don’t even have stingers.

According to Johnson “You can hold them in your hand if you’ve got a little sweat or a little sweet water on your fingers, they will sit there and lap it up.”

The bottom line: the largest wasp found in South Dakota is actually one of the most docile, more interested in survival than in stinging us.

There is a difference between wasps and hornets. Hornets are more aggressive because they live in hive-like communities and can swarm people, wasps are solitary and are more interested in food and less likely to defend themselves.

South Dakota State University has more information on Cicada Killers. Click here for that information.

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