The cicada killer might be the scariest-looking wasp in our state. It is, however, not aggressive toward people and is virtually harmless, unless handled roughly. As in all ground-nesting wasps, an active nest can usually be recognized by the mound of earth excavated by the female with her mandibles and legs.
Commonly heard but less often seen, these bugs look like larger and greener versions of the famous periodical cicadas. Annual cicadas go through a life cycle of only about 2–5 years, and some are present every year—thus they are called annual.
Among the most remarkable insects in Missouri, periodical cicadas live as nymphs for 13–17 years underground, and then emerge simultaneously to metamorphose into their adult form. Tremendous numbers of periodical cicadas, calling all at once, are a memorable event.
This large, green and tan predator is often called a “praying mantis” because the front legs resemble hands folded in prayer. Those who know its predatory nature are more apt to call it a "preying" mantis!
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