University of Kentucky Department of Entomology
The females are known to inflict a painful sting, so it is wise not to bother them. Velvet ant larvae are parasites of the larvae and pupae of many insects, including wasps, bees, beetles, and flies. The adults feed on nectar.
They prefer to dig burrows in well-drained, sunny, sparsely vegetated areas. Cicada killers are often mistaken for hornets, because of similar black and yellow patterns on their bodies. Cicada killers do not attack humans, but they will readily inflict a painful sting if handled. A cicada killer seeks out her prey on the trunks and lower branches of trees, using her sting to paralyze it. The cicada is then turned over and carried belly-up back to the nest. Once a cicada killer has provisioned her burrow or nest, she lays an egg, then seals off the nest to protect her offspring. The larva will consume the cicada, and then overwinter, waiting to pupate until spring. Adult emergence of cicada killers lasts from the end of June throughout the summer.
Insects All Year cartoon courtesy of C. Ware, copyright 1998
Original document: 7 July 1997
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