(Lakeland FL) About the size of a quarter. Found it stuck to the screen porch. I thought it was a wasp or yellow jacket but its too big. Kind of scary with the kids around an that size of a stinger.
Those who said Cicada killer were correct and for those who said hornet…it is not a true hornet but is sometimes called a giant ground hornet.
This large wasp will sting cicadas (paralyzes them so the larvae have ‘fresh’ food ) to put in the underground nest for the larvae to feed on…hence the name – cicada killer. The adults just feed on flower nectar.
These wasps are found east of the Rockies south into Mexico in gardens, wooded areas, and meadow type areas.
Bugguide gives a great description of the life cycle – “In two or three days after egg laying, a wasp larva will hatch from the egg. The larva immediately begins eating the cicada. When the larva finishes the cicada, leaving only the outer shell (about two weeks), it will then spin a coccoon and hibernate until the following Spring.
In the Spring, the larva will leave its coccoon and become a pupa (resting stage). From the pupa, an adult Cicada Killer will hatch. It will dig its way out of the ground and look for a mate.
Male wasps die shortly after mating. Females die after laying all of their eggs.
These wasps would only sting if provoked. Therefore if you see nests, keep the kids away from that area. To prevent nest building, mulch over sandy soil areas, that is probably a challenge in FL 🙂 The nest is a rather obvious hole in the ground where the sandy has been piled up as the burrow was made.