Free Inspections & Estimates Same Day Service!
Fox Pest Control 

Everything You Need to Know About Cicada Killers 

Cicada killer on dirt ground

Summer’s here, and with it comes a whole bunch of buzzing insects. If you’ve seen large, black and yellow-flying insects and wondered what they are or if they’re dangerous to you, well then, you’re in the right place. We’ve got answers for you! Let’s dive into the fascinating world of cicada killers and clear up some common misconceptions. 

What Are Cicada Killers? 

Cicada killers are large wasps, often mistaken for something more dangerous due to their name and size. They can be up to 2 inches long, which is about the length of your thumb. Unlike bees or ants, cicada killers are solitary creatures and don’t live in colonies. 

The name “cicada killer” comes from their unique hunting behavior, showing how they naturally control the cicada population. But we’ll get into more of that in a minute.  

Cicada killers have a fairly short lifecycle. Adults come out of their nests in late June to early July and spend the next few weeks mating and finding just the right place to dig their own burrows. They’ll dig in the sandy soil for weeks before going on to find their prey. They’ll fill the burrows with paralyzed cicadas, lay an egg in each cell, then seal them up. Adult wasps die off by September, and the cycle repeats with a new generation the following summer.  

Where Do Cicada Killers Live?  

Cicada killers are found throughout the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. They prefer sandy or loose soil, where they dig burrows to lay their eggs. Female cicada killers dig tunnels that are about 1 to 1.5 inches wide and 6-10 inches deep. At the bottom, they build a chamber with up to a dozen or more little rooms.  

Because of their nesting habits, cicada killers can be a real nuisance. With some basic lawn maintenance, you can make your yard less appealing to cicada killers and help keep them from permanently moving into your yard. They prefer loose, sandy soil, so keep your grass healthy and dense by mowing and watering regularly.   

What Do Cicada Killers Eat?

Adult cicada killers drink flower nectar, but their larvae get a heartier meal – that’s right, cicadas! After she’s burrowed a tunnel for her eggs, the female goes hunting for cicadas. Once she captures her prey, she stings it, and her venom paralyzes it. She then carries it back to her burrow and puts it into one of the cells or rooms. She lays one egg in each cell and then seals the chamber. The eggs will hatch in 2-3 days, and the larvae will begin feeding on the cicada. 

Each cell can have up to three cicadas for the larvae to feed on, which will last about two weeks. After about two weeks, the larvae spin a cocoon of silk mixed with sand or dirt and overwinter in the chamber until the next summer, when they appear as adult cicada killers.  

Do Cicada Killers Sting? 

Yes, cicada killers can sting, but here’s the good news: they’re not interested in stinging humans. Females only use their sting to paralyze cicadas. They’re quite docile and will usually only sting if provoked or handled roughly. 

Males, on the other hand, can’t sting at all! They may act aggressively and buzz around you, but it’s all a show to protect their territory. So, if a cicada killer comes near you, there’s no need to panic. Just stay calm, and it will likely fly away. 

Are Cicada Killers Dangerous? 

These wasps might look scary, but they’re mostly harmless and play an important role in the ecosystem. Understanding their behavior can help alleviate any fears you might have and allow you to appreciate these fascinating creatures. However, their burrowing habits can be a nuisance, especially if they decide to make your yard their home. These burrows can be unsightly and may cause some damage to your lawn or garden. 

If you find a cicada killer nest on your property and it’s causing problems, it’s time to call Fox Pest Control to handle the situation safely and effectively. We’re experts at cicada killer control, and we’re ready to protect your home and yard. Check out our Home Protection Plan and call us with any questions.  

Fox Pest Control

no bugs. simply better.

Recent Posts

Call to Get a Quote
or to Schedule
Same Day* Service
(855) 953-1976

Residential Service Locations

*Call us today before 2 p.m. (Monday-Friday) for a same day, zero-obligation inspection and estimate or to provide pest control & extermination services near you.