Cicada killer wasps, not murder hornets, spotted in NM | KOB 4
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Cicada killer wasps, not murder hornets, spotted in NM

KOB Web Staff
Updated: June 30, 2020 05:20 PM
Created: June 30, 2020 02:53 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- There's no evidence murder hornets have made their way to New Mexico, but a different insect is generating concern.

"People are not seeing murder hornets, they're seeing a larger wasp known as a cicada killer wasp," said Jason Schaller, the curator of entomology at the Bugarium inside the Albuquerque BioPark's Botanic Garden. 

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The cicada killer wasp can grow to be 2 inches long, Shaller said. He added that the females hunt cicadas. Schaller said humans should not be afraid of the insects.

"The only way you get stung is to pick one up and hold it in your hands, and even doing that it's most likely just going to try and escape and fly away before it stings," he said.

The sting of a cicada killer is the most mild of all the wasp stings, according to Schaller. 

"They'd rather flee than confront anybody, only the males will buzz around you," he said. "They're much smaller than the females so if you ever come across a cicada killer that seems aggressive, it's just a male, and he doesn't have a stinger.

Another wasp commonly seen in New Mexico, according to Schaller, is the digger wasp.

"They're in a different family of wasps than cicada killers, but they are very similar," he said. "They are solitary wasps. Females, instead of hunting cicada, will hunt beetles."


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