Pest Facts: Cicada Killer
Cicada killers get their name from the fact that it hunts and provisions its nest cell with a cicada as food for its young. These wasps are a nuisance pest and people become alarmed because they look like a giant Yellow Jacket. These are beneficial insects by helping control cicada populations.
- Color: Predominantly Black with yellow bands
- Legs: Six
- Shape: Large, Elongate; wasp shape
- Size: 1 to 1 5/8 inches
- Antennae: Yes
- Flying: Yes
- Region: Central and Eastern United States
Cicada Killers are solitary wasps and do not live in colonies. However, many individuals may fly over a lawn or use the same general area for nesting purposes. Each female will make a burrow about ½ inch in diameter and place one to two cicadas in each burrow.
Typically areas of bare ground and sandy soil are used as nesting sites. Many individuals may use the general area for nesting purposes. While digging their burrows, the females will excavate a sizeable amount of soil which can be disfiguring to lawn.
Female Cicada Killers in general will not sting unless handled or stepped on by barefooted children. Males will buzz people but cannot sting.
Cicada killers should be addressed by a professional. Treatment of a nest is usually done by dusting the burrow with an appropriately labeled product. People should be advised to eliminate all bare ground areas as a long-term solution to discourage nesting.