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originally posted by: wantsome
I should wouldn't want to get stung by one.
Those are small compared to what I saw. My hand measures 3 1/2" across and what I saw was as wide as my hand. Also it's wings were black.
originally posted by: Butterfinger
FWIW, I live in Oklahoma, and I ran across a few HUGE wasps and thought the same thing.
Turns out they are fairly common in the states, "Cicada Killers"
bluesman462002 beat me to it!! Cheers!
So what are people seeing when they think one of these monster killer hornets is on the loose? There are two main suspects found in the Eastern US that are often confused for Asian giant hornets. The first is actually a close relative, the European hornet (Vespa crabro L.; see images below). This species was introduced from Europe/Asia into the US sometime in the 1800s and first recorded in NY. It has since spread across much of the eastern half of the US. These wasps tend to nest in tree cavities and prefer to be away from humans, but sometimes are found in other situations, even in attics or walls of homes. They can be aggressive and have painful stings, but are not usually an issue to homeowners.
Another candidate, and a wasp that is even larger than any hornet we have here, is the Eastern cicada killer (Sphecius speciosus (Drury)). These wasps are distantly related to hornets. They are in fact a type of solitary hunting wasp in the family Crabronidae (formerly a part of Sphecidae, which contains familiar wasps like mud daubers). As their name implies, cicada killer wasps hunt cicadas. In mid-summer, males guard plots of ground suitable for tunnels and may "attack" any intruder, especially other males. However, they cannot sting. It's the females that find this prey and paralyze it, not for her own food but for her young (larvae) to consume. Once a female has paralyzed her cicada, she buries it in the ground and lays an egg that will hatch into a larva that will consume the prey. Although they have an impressive stinger and have venom, they are not aggressive and prefer to avoid conflict - after all there is no one to do the work if they die! If you can get them to sting (which would take a lot) they apparently cause very mild pain, especially for their size.