Cicada killer wasps spotted throughout the Triangle

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Flying around. Stalking its prey. Cicada killer wasps are the things nightmares are made of.

"It's sort of a mosquito-like looking thing," said Frank Holder, of Durham.

The good news: Experts say we really don't have anything to worry about.

"In spite of their intimidating appearance, they're really pretty much harmless," NC State Entomology Professor Clyde Sorenson said.

RELATED: What you can do to protect yourself from wasps

It's called the cicada killer wasp because that's the only thing it's interested in killing. Right now it's in the peak of its hunting season.

"They sting them. They carry them into their tunnels, into their tunnels they build. They put them in little cells, and they they lay an egg in that cicada," Sorenson said.

Their stingers are something to be reckoned with but for the most part they don't ever bother humans.

"They're only going to be defensive when they're defending their nest space," Sorenson said.

So be warned, if you make the cicada killer wasp feel threatened, it may turn that stinger on you.

RELATED: Deadly stings from bees, wasps, hornets increase over last 5 years, CDC finds

"Compared to other stinging wasps this is a pretty painful sting. But again you're not likely to get stung unless you basically ask for it," Sorenson said.

You're only going to see the wasps flying around for a few more weeks. This generation will die and the new generation will emerge from their nest next summer.

EMBED More News Videos

Here's the difference between bees, wasps and yellow jackets.

Copyright © 2022 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.