A buzzing in your ear or in your yard can be unnerving, especially when you spot an insect that’s nearly 2-inches long. What may be more frightening is spying a hornet out of the corner of your eye and realizing your backyard has become their home.

Cicada killer wasps are probably the last thing you want to see in your backyard. They can be intimidating-looking insects; however, it’s important to note that not all creatures are as bad as they seem.

Still, cicada killer wasps can be a pest should they pull up residence on your property. Here are a few facts about cicada killer wasps and some simple ways to get rid of them.

Cicada killer wasps: sure, the name sounds quite threatening

What is a Cicada Killer Wasp?

Cicada killer wasps: sure, the name sounds quite threatening, but these flying insects are not as aggressive as their European counterparts. Unlike other wasps and bees, this type of wasp is a lone insect. They do not live in colonies. It’s also not a cicada, but they do kill them. Cicada killer wasps will prey on cicadas, and the females will lay their eggs in their “prize.” Once the eggs hatch, the babies will feed on the carcass.

Typically, these wasps are mistaken for European wasps, but they look and “sound” more frightening than they are. In fact, they aren’t overly aggressive unless they are protecting their homes. Cicada killer wasps tend to stay away from people and remain in their burrows at night.

What do Cicada Killer Wasps look like?

Again, while these wasps may look like European hornets, there are a few distinct differences. Cicada killer wasps have red or orange legs and wings, and their bodies are typically in shades of brown. They have thick wings and black/yellow markings. They can also be pretty big. The females measure about 2-inches long, while the male of the species measures two times smaller.

Why is the Cicada Killer Wasp a problem?

While these insects aren’t really a danger or a health hazard, they can still cause problems. They aren’t poisonous and they won’t damage your house, but they do build underground nests. They don’t just build one either; they can make a series of underground burrows which can be quite a problem for your yard and home.

Cicada killer wasps tend to build their nests in soft, dry ground or dirt. You can often spot them under playground equipment, near concrete, or in other dry areas. While they aren’t aggressive, they will become agitated should you disturb their home. They can be very territorial, and if you have a few dozen nests in your backyard, it can be difficult to live with them.

How do you Get Rid of Cicada Killer Wasps?

Like any pest problem, a little bit of prevention and know-how can do wonders. If you have a handful of cicada killer wasps, it may be a problem you can handle on your own. However, if you have an overwhelming infestation, you can always contact a pest control expert to inspect and take care of the issue. Here are a few things you can do to put a stop to cicada killer wasps.

1. Use Insecticidal Dust

If you’ve spotted cicada killer wasps burrowing into your backyard, you can try treating the area using insecticidal dust or pesticide. Keep in mind, you may end up killing other insects and creatures; be incredibly careful what you buy. In addition, be cautious of using any pest killer on your own if you have small children or pets. Take the proper precautions when applying.

It should also be noted that not all sprays are effective against these wasps.

2. Control the Environment

If you want to avoid using pesticides, an easy way to keep these wasps away is by controlling the environment. If the cicada killer wasps don’t have the proper living conditions, they will look for a home elsewhere. To burrow, they need dirt, sunlight, proper drainage, and a food source. The best way to keep them away is by making your yard inhabitable for them. Cut grass regularly, care for your gardens, and keep an eye on areas they tend to gravitate like sandy areas or by concrete. Also, keep things hydrated.

3. Care for your Garden Regularly

A hot spot for cicada killer wasps is the garden. Whether you have a vegetable garden or a flower bed, you can keep these pests away by caring for your garden regularly. Turn the soil, water often, and monitor your plants on a day-to-day basis.

4. Water it All

A common theme in most of these tips is water. Cicada killer wasps prefer to live in dry areas. Keeping things well-watered will keep these pests away. While we don’t recommend overwatering, maintaining your garden and yard with proper hydration will encourage these wasps to look elsewhere for a home. Water can also help with sandboxes, playground equipment, and other areas that aren’t hydrated.

Cicada Killer Wasp Facts: Questions You Want Answered5. Contact a Specialist

When it comes to stinging pests, you can never be too careful. While the methods above may help deter wasps and keep them from coming back, it may not be enough if you already have an infestation. Additionally, these wasps can be resistant to many pesticides. If tending to your lawn and regular water treatments aren’t working, it’s a good idea to consult an expert.

Closing Thoughts

While a cicada killer wasp plays an essential part in the ecosystem, having them in your backyard is no picnic. Though they could be frightening, they don’t have to be a problem. Perform routine maintenance on your yard or property, water regularly, and you should be able to keep these wasps away from your home. However, should you find yourself swarmed, don’t hesitate to contact a professional.



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