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What are cicada killer wasps?

Sphecius speciosus, often simply referred to as the cicada killer or the cicada hawk, is a large digger wasp species. Cicada killers are large, solitary wasps in the family Crabronidae. The name may be applied to any species of crabronid which preys on cicadas, though in North America it is typically applied to a single species, S. speciosus. However, since there are multiple species of related wasps, it is more appropriate to call it the eastern cicada killer. This species occurs in the eastern and midwest U.S. and southwards into Mexico and Central America. They are so named because they hunt cicadas and provision their nests with them. In North America they are sometimes called sand hornets, although they are not hornets, which belong to the family Vespidae. Cicada killers exert a measure of natural control on cicada populations and thus may directly benefit the deciduous trees upon which their cicada feed.

Cicada Killer Wasp

1 1/2" - 2" long

Reddish and black on abdomen with yellow stripes on three segments

6 legs with pale red to orange, shaded brown color wings

Cicada Killer Habits

Cicada killers will be seen mostly in the early months of summer. They like to burrow near the edge of the forest, gardens and waste places. They need to have a well-lit area with light soil and good drainage to build their nests. It is also ideal for them to be near trees where cicada bugs live. Cicada killers emerge in summer to mate. Once a female has mated she begins to burrow into the soil making oval-shaped chambers for her eggs. Then she hunts for cicada bugs until she has one for every egg that she lays. She stings and paralyzes the cicada and brings it back to the chamber. She then lays an egg on it and goes out to hunt more cicada bugs. Once the egg hatches into a larva it will eat the cicada bug and then build a cocoon and hibernate until the following spring when it will begin to dig its way out of the tunnel to mate again.

Threats Posed By Cicada Killers

Cicada killers can sting humans. They are not usually aggressive and will usually leave you alone, but if a female cicada killer feels threatened she will sting. However, it is usually safe to walk past a nest and not be bothered by a female cicada killer. Male cicada killers do not have stingers but are territorial. They may seem aggressive to people nearby but are actually harmless. This will be hard to tell from your perspective if they are male or female. Female cicada killers can cause property damage by the tunnels they dig.

Cicada Killer Prevention

Cicada killers will stay on your property and thrive when their three basic needs are met. They need dirt to dig in, sunlight and proper drainage, and plenty of cicadas to eat. If you can control or reduce these three needs from lining up for the cicada killers then you will deter them from residing on your property.

Bee-Z Pest Control Cicada Killer Wasps Treatment Solution

If you already have a cicada killer problem on your property it is best to call a professional pest exterminator to help you eliminate them and keep them away. Cicada killers usually have to be dealt with using pesticides which can be very dangerous if used improperly. Contact us to find out how we can help you get rid of stinging insects on your property.

Cicada Killer Wasps: About
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