TYLER, Texas (KETK) – East Texas is home to many types of insects, including large wasps known as the cicada killer wasp. However, that insect is often mistaken for Asian giant hornets, also known as murder hornets.
“Probably because of the size they get them confused, because cicada killer wasps are very, very large wasps,” said entomologist Molly Keck with Texas A&M AgriLife.
Some people see a large bug flying around them and quickly turn to the internet for help identifying it.
“When you just google ‘giant wasp’, you usually end up with the Asian giant hornet as an identifier. Unless you have one in your hand, it’s hard to look at the two and be able to differentiate between them,” said Keck.
Still, there are ways you can tell the insects apart.
“The Asian giant hornet is bigger and it’s a little bit more bulkier or wide,” Keck said. “The Asian giant hornet has a very large head that is almost bigger than the rest of the body at least in width.”
The cicada killer wasp has a zig-zagged striped abdomen, tends to have a darker coloring, and won’t attack you.
“Females lay eggs in little burrows that they excavate, and so you often see them closer to the grounds at eye level or below,” said Keck.
With how dry the ground is from lack of rain, it’s the perfect environment for female cicada killer wasps to burrow in and lay their eggs.
“They’re usually looking for a bald spot in grass, that have trees close by that is very dry,” said Tony Santangelo, CEO of Innovative Pest Control.
Officials with Texas A&M AgriLife and Innovative Pest Control say the cicada killer wasp is beneficial to the environment, and it’s best to just leave them alone.
“They’re going to go away by themselves whether they’re treated or not, usually by the end of August,” said Santangelo.
Santangelo added that the best way to keep them away from your home is by watering and mowing your lawn.