The cicada killer is one of the largest wasps in Indiana. The cicada killer is a solitary wasp that digs tunnels in the soil for rearing its larvae. Once the tunnel is dug to the appropriate depth, the cicada killer will fly off and make a circling flight around the nest area to memorize landmarks. It will continue to memorize landmarks during its hunt for a cicada.
A female cicada killer locates a cicada by its loud calling. The female will sting the cicada to paralyze it and fly with it back to the nest. The cicada killer will drag the cicada into the tunnel, lay an egg on it and seal the tunnel. By keeping the cicada alive, but in a paralyzed state, the cicada killer provides a large quantity of fresh food for its larva. Over the course of its development, the cicada killer larva will consume the entire cicada. The wasp must be large enough to carry an adult cicada back to its nest which is one reason for its large size.
When cicada killers are not digging tunnels and hunting cicadas, they visit flowers for pollen and nectar. A prime nectar spot for the wasp are wild carrot (Daucus carota) flowers. People who are afraid of bees and wasps are usually even more frightened of the cicada killer. Because of its large size, they assume that it must deliver a larger amount of a more painful venom. However, the cicada killer primarily uses its venom for paralyzing prey. It is not very aggressive in guarding its nest. When collecting nectar, it is possible to approach cicada killers very closely with little danger of being stung. Their large size and slow movements on flowers make them an easy insect to photograph close up.