Cicada Killer Wasp

Cicada Killer Wasp is one of the largest wasps found in North America. It has recently been mistaken for the "Murder Hornet" that has been spotted for the first time in  the US (as of this posting, the Murder Hornet has only been seen in Canada and northwest Washington state.) The two most common Cicada Killer Wasps are the Eastern (Image 1) and Western (Image 2). The Rockies are kind of the dividing line for the two, as well as altitude, with the Western being found higher up.

Although they have distinct warning colors and make a very loud buzzing sound, they are very rarely a problem to humans or pets. Their biggest effect is intimidation.
Males (Image 3) are slightly smaller and emerge earlier than the females. Males have no stinger and feed only on nectar (Image 4), they have very poor eye sight and quickly approach anything they see moving in their area. They are not being aggressive, they are looking for females, but humans mistake this as dive-bombing and dangerous. Males die soon after mating.

Females dig tunnels, leaving mounds of dirt, in full sun, where the soil is well drained and vegetation is sparse. Often they will dig near sidewalks, patios or edge of house, often in soft or sandy soil (Images 6 & 7). After digging a tunnel, the female “hunts” Cicadas. She does have a stinger and when she finds a Cicada, she stings it to paralyze it. She then flies or drags (Image 5) it back to the tunnel, where she will lay a single egg on it.
When the egg hatches, the larvae will feed on the Cicada and palpates to emerge next year.


To start control, you must follow the female to her tunnel– this will be where she spends the night. Go out to where you see them flying and they will lead you to where their tunnel is located. The recommended time to apply the control is early in the morning before the air warms up or sometime during the night.

The MOST effective controls are dusts that are applied in the tunnel entrance where the wasp will get in contact with it as it enters or exits the hole. Hi-Yield® Multi-Use Dust  is the longest lasting and most effective for this use. Hi-Yield® Garden, Pet & Livestock Dust can also be very effective as long as it remains dry, but will need to be re-applied every time it rains or you water.

Liquids are generally NOT effective. If one is very sensitive to wasp stings or afraid, Hi-Yield® 38 Plus can be mixed and sprayed in the area. A long-range approach is ferti•lome® Wasp & Hornet Killer, this aerosol can spray over 20 feet so you don’t need to get too close.

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