Thursday, July 19, 2007

Hornet - Eastern Cicada Killer wasp, ground spider webs and yellow jacket sting

Wing study 1.

Wing study 2.

I found this hornet on the sidewalk during the morning dogwalk. Here's more information about the hornet from wikipedia: Eastern Cicada Killer wasp, Sphecius speciosus. Even though it's named a wasp, I call it a hornet because it's so large. The measurement from bottom of body to wing tip is 1 1/2". We saw a hornets' nest at a campground in Ohio once and it was impressively large as were the hornets. The stupid caretaker was trying to spray some wasp killer pesticide into the nest and the hornets were not amused. It was ridiculous trying to get rid of the hornets' nest because it was hanging from a tree far from the camping area although within the property of the campgrounds and the hornets were not bothering anyone. I guess the owners would have been liable if anyone got stung when it was brought to their attention that there was a nest on the campgrounds. Look at the size of the stinger! I sure wouldn't want to be stung by one of those. If you enlarge the first photo by clicking it you can see that the abdomen seems to be armor plated with leathery looking segments.

Writing about getting stung - I was stung by a yellow jacket earlier this week. I was cleaning the filter for the fishpond when suddenly I felt something biting my arm. As I brushed it off I saw that it was a yellow jacket wasp. The sting wasn't that painful and I thought nothing of it. The next day my arm was swollen and red where the wasp stung me and started to itch. It got progressively worse and was uncomfortable in the hot and humid weather we've been having. I was lucky I wasn't stung more times as the filter was only 2 feet from the nest a hole in the ground. We have paper wasps nests around the deck usually every year but they don't seem to be aggressive. I wonder if the ground dwelling ones are more aggressive. It could be that I stepped on the entrance hole when I approached the filter so the wasp was only protecting the hive. Well in any case, I know where they are and will try not to disturb them again.

When I looked out into the yard this foggy morning, I could see many ground spider webs made visible by the fine water droplets. I counted at least 50 webs mostly in the lawn. Funny to think there are so many spiders out there unseen.


Blogger lisa said...

Ground-dwelling wasps and bees are definately more aggressive in my experience. I had a fun time trying to burn some out of a soon-to-be pasture a few years ago. I went out after dark when they aren't active, and poured Coleman lantern fuel in the hole, being careful to set the now empty can on the ground 20' away. I took a long torch and touched it to the nest (stuffed with paper to keep the wasps in)...flames burst immediately, followed the trail of fluid I unwittingly left as I walked with the can, and BOOM!The can shot 15' into the air and came back to earth in pieces. My dad called me the "Polish pyromaniac"...luckily I was unscathed enough to laugh about it!

11:11 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Yikes, I thought that only happened in the movies, you know...the trail of fuel. I bet the wasps died more from the gas fumes and being doused by the fuel than by burning. Plugging the hole with paper would effectively have cut off the fire's access to the fuel you poured into the hole. Hee, hee, glad you lived to tell the tale.

When I was a kid, I collected all the firecrackers that didn't go off. I painstakingly peeled off the paper to get at the gunpowder which was a silvery color. Some older kids had made a small pile with only a few firecrackers and lit it, resulting in a flash and flying sparks which we thought was cool. My pile was probably about a cup of gunpowder (kids always exaggerate but that's how I remember it but it was a sizeable mound) which I was going to light by using a fuse pulled from a firecracker. Well you can guess what happened. The fuse was only about an inch long so when I tried to light it with a match, FOOM!, there was a blinding light and I fell over backwards. I was staggering around for a few minutes completely blinded by the brilliant flash. I was fortunate that my eyesight was not permanently impaired. Surprising what you survived when you were a kid.

6:08 PM  
Blogger kate said...

Now I know why my dad was in so much pain when he was stung by a hornet last summer. That stinger is scary looking!

The pictures of the ground spider webs are really interesting ... I've never noticed them before. Now I will be on the lookout for them.

1:28 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Kate,
I can just imagine how painful it must have been for your dad. The yellow jacket sting was more annoying than painful with the swelling and itching. The hornet would have pumped in much more venom so I wouldn't want to experience a sting from one of those bad boys.

The ground spiders seemed to be everywhere once the fog revealed the webs. Surprising how we can be totally oblivious to so many creatures who share our garden. You'll have to look carefully because the web is practically invisible. Thanks for the comment.

7:12 PM  
Blogger DeeMom said...

The ground webs are neat. I have not yet been able to get a picture that does them justice. However KI yours are breathtaking.

As for the Yellow Jackets and Ground Hornets… nasty reaction to them and it only exacerbates as I mature. However the pictures are lovely…

10:39 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi deemom,
I've seen ground spiderwebs a few times before but the conditions were just right, windless and heavy fog to reveal so many webs. The spiders were so wary any least bit of motion would have them scurrying down the mouth of the opening - a good tactic to get away from being trampled.

Now that I know where the nest is I will be more careful to not disturb the yellow jackets.;) Luckily I'm not allergic to the stings so I'm not too concerned working close to the nest. Thanks for the comments.

5:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just got back from an emergency treatment clinic after being repeatedly stung by ground-nesting yellow jackets. I was uprooting a dead plant in my garden with a shovel when I felt a sharp hot pain in my left forearm and saw a yellowjacket. Then, I saw a nest that I had uncovered and hundreds of swarming insects around me. I dropped everything and stepped back a good 20-30 feet but they kept swarming around me as I kept brushing them off. I got 2 more stings through my shirt! Big red welts came up and began to itch. I used Benadryl topical cream for 5 days as the itching was driving me crazy. The itching and swelling went down and I thought I was in the clear until exactly 1 week later when the sting sites began itching again and huge allergic-type welts and spreading redness occurred. I took a shot of adrenocorticosteroids and will take a 10-day course of "dex" (more steroids) to ensure the reaction stays under control. Next time, I will poke around each dig site in my yard before going in.

7:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If there was a swarm of Wasp then they weren't Cicada Killer Wasp. CKW's are Solitary Wasp that do not depend on other members of a colony. The cicada killer, like other solitary wasps, has the capability to sting, but won't unless handled or threatened. Only female wasps have the ability to sting. Stings inflicted by solitary wasps are usually not severe, but reaction varies with each individual.

I am currently in battles with these little creatures. It would not be so bad if I had a large yard however its small so the likelihood of being stung is a lot higher. They usually only stay around dry areas but flooding the area with water and keeping it wet does not seem to faze these Wasp's.

Will have to find other solutions.

7:19 AM  

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