Cicada Wasp Killer

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You know the dog days of summer are here when you begin to hear the constant hum of the cicadas in the evenings. Their loud droning is impossible to ignore. Someone else is hearing it too — the cicada wasp killer, a large, black and yellow striped wasp that preys upon the noisy cicadas. When the female cicada wasp killer finds a cicada, she parasitizes it with a sting and then carries it to her nest. Inside the nest, the cicada killer provisions her laid eggs with the parasitized cicada that will become the larva’s first meal, once it’s emerged from its egg.

Cicada wasp killer are most often seen in mid- to late-July and early-August when homeowners notice huge wasps burrowing in the yard. It is most likely a female cicada killer preparing a nest in the ground to lay her eggs. They prefer dry, sandy types of soils for building their nests. Yards that have favorable nesting sites can become peppered by these burrows and mounds of dirt. To discourage the nesting, homeowners should water the lawn to keep it moist.

Cicada Killer Wasp

  • Why are cicada killers so abundant in some areas?
  • They choose sites with specific characteristics: well-drained, light-textured soils in full sunlight that are near trees harboring cicadas.
  • These areas include: along sidewalk or patio edges, in flower beds, gardens, or lawns.
  • Sometimes skunks may dig up areas that have been extensively tunneled by the wasps to feed on cicadas and wasp larvae.

Are cicada killers dangerous?

  • Females have significant stingers which they plunge into cicadas to inject venom that paralyzes them. Males lack stingers but are territorial.
  • Their stings are painful.
  • They are not aggressive and do not have nest-guarding instinct of honey bees and hornets. You can walk through areas where they are active without attracting attention.
  • The buzzing noise that the wasps make and the warning colors on their wings and bodies intimidate and discourage predators that see them as a large meal. When attacked, females will use their stinger to protect themselves.

Will cicada killers harm pets?

  • Those that pick females probably will be stung, remember it, and associate the experience with the buzzing sound and warning colors.
  • Some may have a severe reaction to the venom, especially if stung in the mouth.
  • If that is suspected, the animal should be taken to a veterinarian immediately.
  • Wasp flight begins in early morning and can continue until dusk. Wasps remain in their burrows at night.

Can cicada killers cause damage?

  • Female cicada killers dig extensive tunnels where their young will be raised, displacing several pounds of soil in the process.
  • Occasionally, it can result in some damage, such destabilizing a brick patio laid on sand.
  • Cicada killers may dig in the loose soil in vegetable gardens or flower beds. Water the base of the plant since wasps do not like wet soil.
  • Cicada killers may begin to dig in sandy areas on playgrounds or in golf course sand traps. If practical, keep these areas wet or regularly churn the sand to discourage wasps from establishing their tunnels.

Can cicada killer wasps be controlled?

  • Applications made into the burrows or to the entrances where the wasps enter and leave is most effective.

An estimated 40% of the developing larvae (a dozen or more per tunnel) may emerge as adults the following year so numbers can increase rapidly. With this in mind, it is surely important to address the issue instead of leaving it untreated. Cicada killers can be very territorial as they buzz about their burrow openings and, because of their large size; people are easily frightened by them. It is rare to be stung by a cicada wasp killer, but leave the wasp extermination to a professional! Serving Albany and Clifton Park along with the entire Capital Region, Thomas Pest Services trained professionals will effectively treat cicada wasp killer around your property. Learn more about stinging insects and bee removal services in Albany or contact us today!

Source: University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

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