Its name is sphecius speciosus and it comes out a couple of months before Halloween. Maybe for that reason, they've earned the nickname "zombie wasp."

People all over parts of New Jersey have taken notice of these things and are wondering what the hell they are and how dangerous they are.

Thankfully, even though they may look scary, they are harmless to humans and pets.

They're most commonly called "cicada killers" or "cicada hawks" and they're not interested in us. They prey on cicadas.

You may see little piles of dirt or sand in the cracks in sidewalks or on your patio. They capture cicadas and put them down those holes in the sand or dirt piles and feed off them.

It sounds horrendous and they look threatening and petrifying but the only thing they really petrify is the cicada.

via Wiki4All on YouTube
via Wiki4All on YouTube

They are officially known as the Eastern cicada killer and have the reputation as "the gentle giants of the wasp world."

They are here in New Jersey right now but don't confuse them with their cousins, the "murder hornets," which made big news right around the time that COVID arrived in 2020.

Just like the pandemic in 2022, the thought and sight of this phenomenon is far worse than the reality.

The cicada killer wasps are actually good for the planet since they hunt cicadas, which damage trees. That is far more of a danger to humans than a scary-looking but harmless bug that's making holes in your dirt.

Unlike the spotted lantern fly, you are not encouraged to kill them. Spotted lantern flies kill trees and vegetation. These guys actually protect against that.

via Wiki4All on YouTube
via Wiki4All on YouTube

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Dennis Malloy only.

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These are the best hiking spots in New Jersey

A trip to New Jersey doesn't have to be all about the beach. Our state has some incredible trails, waterfalls, and lakes to enjoy.

From the Pine Barrens to the Appalachian Trail to the hidden gems of New Jersey, you have plenty of options for a great hike. Hiking is such a great way to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature, plus it's a great workout.

Before you go out on the trails and explore some of our listeners' suggestions, I have some tips on hiking etiquette from the American Hiking Society.

If you are going downhill and run into an uphill hiker, step to the side and give the uphill hiker space. A hiker going uphill has the right of way unless they stop to catch their breath.

Always stay on the trail, you may see side paths, unless they are marked as an official trail, steer clear of them. By going off-trail you may cause damage to the ecosystems around the trail, the plants, and wildlife that live there.

You also do not want to disturb the wildlife you encounter, just keep your distance from the wildlife and continue hiking.

Bicyclists should yield to hikers and horses. Hikers should also yield to horses, but I’m not sure how many horses you will encounter on the trails in New Jersey.
If you are thinking of bringing your dog on your hike, they should be leashed, and make sure to clean up all pet waste.

Lastly, be mindful of the weather, if the trail is too muddy, it's probably best to save your hike for another day.

I asked our listeners for their suggestions of the best hiking spots in New Jersey, check out their suggestions:

New Jersey's smallest towns by population

New Jersey's least populated municipalities, according to the 2020 Census. This list excludes Pine Valley, which would have been the third-smallest with 21 residents but voted to merge into Pine Hill at the start of 2022.

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