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Freshwater Crayfish 23(1): 55-57 (2017)


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An observation of the use of devil crayfish (Cambarus cf. diogenes) burrows as brooding habitat by eastern cicada killer wasps (Sphecius speciosus)

Glon MG and Thoma RF  e-mail link

Published Online: 12/31/2017


Burrowing crayfish are a polyphyletic group of crayfish adapted to life in habitats where surface water is only intermittently available. The burrowing activity of these crayfish creates refugia for numerous other species, making them allogenic ecosystem engineers. While excavating devil crayfish burrows in a roadside ditch in Southern Indiana, USA, a large cicada killer wasp carrying an even larger cicada landed near the authors. The wasp spent a few minutes manipulating its prey, then took flight and flew directly into an unoccupied crayfish burrow in the roadside ditch. The wasp emerged approximately ten minutes later without the cicada and flew away. Female cicada killer wasps typically excavate brooding burrows consisting of numerous cells in which they deposit cicadas for their young to feed on upon hatching. We believe that this particular cicada killer wasp was in the process of provisioning a brooding cell, but used a crayfish burrow instead of digging its own burrow, possibly to save energy. To our knowledge, use of a crayfish burrow by a cicada killer wasp has not been documented before and adds to the list of organisms that benefit from the ecosystem engineering of burrowing crayfish, highlighting the importance of giving these crayfish appropriate conservation attention.

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How to Cite

Glon MG and Thoma RF. (2017). An observation of the use of devil crayfish (Cambarus cf diogenes) burrows as brooding habitat by eastern cicada killer wasps (Sphecius speciosus). Freshwater Crayfish 23(1):55-57. doi: 10.5869/fc.2017.v23-1.55



Author Information

Mael G. Glon,* Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology, The Ohio State University, 318 W. 12th Avenue, 300 Aronoff Laboratory,Columbus, Ohio, United States43210. E-mail:

Roger F. Thoma, NA, Midwest Biodiversity Institute, 4673 Northwest Parkway, Hilliard, Ohio, United States43026. E-mail:

Corresponding Author indicated by an *.


Publication History

   Manuscript Submitted: 10/6/2017

   Manuscript Accepted: 11/12/2017

   Published Online: 12/31/2017

   Published in Print: 12/31/2017



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No specific funding statement is available for this article.






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