URBANA — The annual cicadas have begun to sing their song, and along with them comes the emergence of their natural predator, the cicada killer wasp. Despite their large size, these pollinating giants are not as threatening as they first seem.

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Annual cicadas, also known as "dog day" cicadas, emerge in July and are starting to be heard in backyards across the Midwest. They are green and black with silvery wings. Hatched from eggs laid in the branches of trees, cicada nymphs fall to the ground and burrow into the soil. The nymphs feed on the sap found in tree and shrub roots for two to five years. When they emerge, they build chimneys, climb up the tree, and leave as flying adults.

The singing of these annual cicadas, or deafening chorus depending on your tolerance level, alerts predators of their presence. Cicada killer wasps come out of hibernation to feast on the annual treat. The warmer temperatures signal the cicada killer wasps to emerge, says Ken Johnson, University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator, not the cicada's sound.

Cicada killers are a native wasp species, and, as their name implies, hunt cicadas.

"Despite their menacing name, cicada killers are usually not harmful to humans despite the male's aggressive behavior," says Article continues after sponsor message