Some winged insects gestate beneath the soil before taking flight. Burrowing bugs use the warmth and protection of the Earth to shelter young and hide from predators. But nature has also provided them with wings, so they can fly to food sources located high above. In some species, this impressive duality serves an environmental purpose.
That rush of buzzing that emits from the trees every few summers is made by cicadas. Cicadas are large, winged insects that stay underground 13 to 17 years. Theories vary as to why the bug sleeps underground for so long. But when they emerge, they fly up to the branches and drink tree fluids, both sap and water. The males of the species make the notable cicada buzzing using their abdomens, while the females chirp back using their wings. A surge of cicadas will last about six weeks.
The cicada has the longest life cycle of any insect. Some species live as long as 17 years. When a cicada dies, the nitrogen in its decomposing body becomes a rich fertiliser for the soil.
Cicada killer wasps
Cicada killer wasps sound and look ruthless, but they are usually not aggressive toward humans. However, cicada killers nesting near each other can destroy a lawn. The wasp resembles a yellow jacket, with similar yellow stripes adorning its abdomen. But they are significantly larger and always build their nests in the ground. A cicada killer builds a small mound of soft soil around its burrow, which acts as a home to fragile larvae. The name of the insect comes from its only source of sustenance, cicadas.
Mining Bees, also known as digger bees, burrow into the ground to build nests for their young. Unlike honeybees, the mining bee spends most of its life alone and will live wherever soil conditions allow. The bees can look similar to honeybees, with yellow stripes, or resemble a shiny green fly. They subsist on nectar and pollen, which they transport back to their burrows for the larvae.
Spider wasps are a ground-burrowing wasp species common in the Midwest. They also set up shop in rotted wood and have been known to build clay housing. The main fare of a spider wasp is spiders, as the name suggests. The wasp immobilises a spider with its sting and attaches it to an egg. When the egg hatches, the larva feasts on the spider until maturity. The wasps are black with thin legs and continuously buzzing wings.
Yellowjackets are wasps that build paper nests in the ground, into crevices of a wall and logs. The workers also forage for food along the ground. Yellowjackets are social insects with a queen. The queen comes into maturity in late May, so the worker yellowjacket population doesn't spike until late summer. Large accumulations of yellowjackets can become an issue for a homeowner, as they are aggressive and have a tendency to swarm.