Big bugs/ large mounds of dirt

sammy zone 7 TulsaJuly 31, 2011

I have very large bugs that are really digging up my soil. Everyday there are more and more mounds of dirt, and the bugs buzz all around me. Did someone here discuss a hummingbird bug? I cannot find out what kind of bug it is, but it is really annoying. I am not killing it because in the beginning I thought it was harmless. Now I am beginning to think I should grab it and plop it is a bucket of soapy water.

I will print a picture if I need to, but think others might have the same bugs. I have many cicadas, and do not think these are the same thing. They buzz all over, but do not seem to be getting into my roses or tomatoes. Maybe I just don't notice, since I am not able to go out too much -- just to change the sprinklers.

I did a search back a few pages, and could not find the link I thought I saw. I did a search on this forum, but it pulled up hummingbirds and not many if any hummingbird bugs.

Sammy in Tulsa

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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


There's a family of hummingbird moths of various types, also generally known as sphinx moths, that are the adult form of various hornworms, including tobacco or tomato hornworm. They generally are observed as hornworms feeding on foliage or as night-flying moths. Although they do burrow into the soil to pupate, I don't think they're what you are seeing now.

My best guess, given that it is mid-summer, is that they are cicada-killer wasps. I don't generally see mounds of soil with them---just holes they've dug to emerge from the soil. However, I have wickedly hard clay and wonder if maybe people with better soil might see mounds of soil right beside their holes after the cicade killers emerge.

If they aren't cicada killers, then my best guess is they are some sort of solitary ground bee or hornet. Without a photo, though, this is just a wild guess.

Finally, if it were a wet year, given your proximity to a creek, I'd be guessing the mounds might be from crawdads. However, it isn't a wet year and I've never heard of crawdads buzzing around. : )


Here is a link that might be useful: Cicada Killer Wasp Photo/Info

    Bookmark   July 31, 2011 at 10:46AM
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sammy zone 7 Tulsa

You hit the nail on the head, Dawn.
In my hillside I have cleared the soil of roses, planted a few new ones, some bushes, and crape myrtles. The soil is barren and covered with mulch. They the insects are making a mess, but the cicadas are even messier and more noisy. I will just leave them alone, and let them fight it out.

Thank you so much.


    Bookmark   July 31, 2011 at 10:55AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


I'm glad that's what they are. They are relatively benign and seldom sting humans. My cats think cicada killers are flying cat toys.

One thing I've noticed about the cicadas here at our place this year is there are not nearly as many as usual. I think the heat may be keeping their numbers down.


    Bookmark   July 31, 2011 at 12:04PM
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I've seen tons of them here in the City this year, both at my house and my daughters. They do make a mound of loose, ground up, soil, kind of like earthworms do when they work their way to the top after rain or watering. Only they are larger than the worms' mounds. I found out that they kill the cicadas to use as a host for their eggs and nymphs. They make tunnels in the soil and deposit one in a tunnel.

Critters are numerous this year in my yard. I have had Giant Ichneumon wasps, Giant Black Wasps, Wheel Bugs (never had these before, but they are meeting their demise because they are killing my lovely katydids), and other bugs and winged critters I've never seen before, including multi-colored grasshoppers.

Butterflies are scarce this year, except for the Hackberry and Tawny Emperors, but I have seen very few large swallowtails, Sulphurs, and we are likely to see no Gulf Fritillaries this year due to the drought in Texas. I am afraid for the migrating Monarchs this fall, and the hummingbirds as well.


    Bookmark   July 31, 2011 at 2:26PM
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sammy zone 7 Tulsa

I think now that I asked about these cicada killers last year. But we have a huge amount of them this year. As long as they are killing cicadas, they don't bother me. I did work hard to make the hillside look nice, but nobody goes back there but me --- to water and weed just a little, so they can just dig away.

My plan to avoid erosion has failed with using mulch and some plants. As we can afford it, we need to fill the area with rocks, and in time some more dirt.

Susan, what is a giant Ichneumon wasp and a wheel bug?

I don't have a desire to tell people that I remember the hottest summer ever. It is 108 now, and will probably get hotter.

I wonder what fall critters will try to move in.


    Bookmark   July 31, 2011 at 5:17PM
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What a timely thread! I saw one tonight crawling around where my Datura leaves touch the ground. I thought maybe it was a Sphynx moth since I've never seen one. There was a mound of dirt right by where the wasp was walking around. It seemed in a hurry. Maybe the heat has the matabolism on overdrive.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2011 at 10:28PM
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When I first saw the wasp, I wasn't sure it was a wasp at all. It looked like a cross between a dragonfly and a wasp. They have very long legs, the thorax is striped yellow and brown, and the abdomen is long and thin. I found one deceased on a leaf and was able to examine it a bit closer. It was wholly intact. I am not real fond of them because they are predators of caterpillars, and you know how I feel about butterflies since I have a butterfly garden that includes their larval host plants and nectar plants. In that I don't use chemicals of any kind, I have to accept the good, the bad, and the ugly along with the butterflies and moths.

Wheel bugs remind me of the "armored cars" of the bug world. They are a steely grey color, and pretty large. I'll attach a photo of one. They are also predators. I found two of them and put both to rest. I only hope I don't have any eggs around the yard. Geez!

Both the wasp and the Wheel bug are considered beneficials. Not to me, but to many veggie gardeners, in that they will attack horn worms on tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant, and other caterpillars that harm vegetables, grasshoppers, etc. But, they are not selective so don't exclude the beautiful butterfly larvae, bees, and other things I try to attract in the garden from their diet.

Here's a link for the Ichneumon wasp. They are about 1.5" long and tall, so good sized.

"Ichneumon Wasp"


Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 31, 2011 at 10:39PM
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sammy zone 7 Tulsa

Thanks, Susan. We have the wasps, but not the wheel bug. It is a weird looking thing, isn't it?


    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 6:59AM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

Wheel bugs are my friends because they stab stink bugs. The trouble is there are hundreds of stink bugs for every slow wheel bug I see.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 3:36PM
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