Cicada Killer Wasps

You are probably seeing cicada killer wasps working overtime these last few weeks of summer.  They are preparing to overwinter by digging their underground burrows and stuffing them with paralyzed cicadas that they will use as food for their larvae.

Cicada tunnels can range from 30-70 inches long and run 12-15 inches below the surface.  Each tunnel has an average of 15 side chambers.  Each tunnel contains 1-3 paralyzed cicadas and a cicada egg that is due to hatch in 2-3 days.  The larvae will feed for about 10 days before leaving the tunnel.  Cicadas only produce one generation each year.

Where are cicadas found?

Cicadas do not have a pack mentality; they are typically a solitary species.  They prefer dry, light textured soils in full sunlight that are near trees that harbor other cicadas.  Common places to find cicada killers are along sidewalks, patios, in flowers beds, gardens, sand boxes and in lawns.

Do cicadas sting?

Female cicadas have stingers that are used to inject venom into other cicadas that causes them to be paralyzed.  Female cicada stings are very painful.  Luckily, females are not territorial like honey bees or hornets.  Male cicadas do not have stingers but are very territorial.

Can cicada killers cause damage?

Female cicada killers burrow and dig tunnels which cause the soil to be misplaced and smother grass.  Cicadas dig loose soil in garden and flower beds that can ruin garden plants and/or vegetables.  A burrow at the base of a plant can disrupt the root system.

How to get rid of cicadas?

Cicadas do not like wet soil so keeping soil watered will deter them from making their borrows  and cause current cicadas to abandon the site.  Watering the soil can also help to settle the soil back into the ground if it has been disrupted by a burrowing cicada.  Another tip is to regularly stir soil or sand to discourage wasps from creating tunnels.

When treating for cicadas, the application should be made directly into the burrow or at entrance.  If you have cicadas messing up your lawn, call Northwest!

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