Giant wasps leave Kentuckiana residents guessing - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Giant wasps leave Kentuckiana residents guessing

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A sphecius speciosus also known as cicada killers. A sphecius speciosus also known as cicada killers.
Sarah Stolz Sarah Stolz
Billy Edelen Billy Edelen

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - They've been swarming Kentuckiana, causing fear in some people and curiosity in others. We're talking about those extra-large wasps flying all over the area.

But what are they?

We found out first hand they are very big and a bit intimidating. They sleep at night, usually only making appearances in the morning and afternoon.

"I wondered what they were, but I had no clue," said cyclist Billy Edelen.

From emailed photos to Facebook chatter and actual sightings, they're the giant wasps that have the town buzzing especially certain parts of town. "In the Triangle (Cherokee Triangle) you never know what's going to happen, so it kind of adds into the Urban Legend here," joked Highlands homeowner Sandra Frazier.  No Urban Legend, although some Highlands residents thought the critters were the seldom seen Asian Giant Hornet.

Edelen said, "I figured they were some kind of parasitic killer! "

Actually, Sarah Stolz, a horticulture expert with Jefferson County Cooperative Extension said, "Sphecius speciosus," also known as cicada killers. 

Stolz said, "This is when the Cicada Killers are active." And she knew exactly where to find them, "You'll find them in trees and shrubs and the landscape."

We found several of them in shrubs on the side of the Park View Apartments, where the owner said his father always thought they were indigenous to their building. Not the case, but Stolz said the ivy certainly makes it more attractive for the wasps.

Edelen said, "When I saw them, I was a little freaked out."

The males are harmless, it's the female wasp that hunts and stings her prey and brings it back to her nest, burrowed in dry soil in the Cicada area.

Edelen rides his bike across town and keeps peddling into and away from them.  He also happens to be a sophomore guard on the Bellarmine University Basketball team. We asked him if the big wasps were scarier than Coach Scotty Davenport when he's mad?  "No comment," Edelen replied.

Stolz said they may bug you, but there's no reason to be afraid unless you or your pets try to chase after them.

The cicada killer wasps are only out for a few weeks during the summer, but if they're out of hand in your yard, you can call the Jefferson County Cooperative Extension office at (502) 569-2344 or find one in your area.

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