cicada killers #170052 - Ask Extension


cicada killers #170052

Asked March 13, 2014, 6:04 PM EDT

How do I rid my yard of these things? They are every where in my back yard. Nothing that I've done seems to work. Last summer was horrible. Iccouldn't enjoy my yard because of these cicada killers. Any insight would be helpful. Thank you.

New Castle County Delaware

Expert Response


There are no products developed for managing this specific insect.  Additionally, no chemical company is or will develop any products aimed at trying to manage this insect.  This particular insect is only a nuisance and only Rarely will it ever try to sting.  Personally, I have dug up their nest/brood chambers with the female crawling over my legs and feet while doing so and was never stung.  I've even had them use me as a launching post to take off looking for cicadas.  This insect is not a pest and is considered a solitary, non-aggressive wasp.  These wasps do not form colonies like other wasps such as yellow jackets or hornets; however, you may have many (hundreds sometimes) utilizing the resource they have found (your yard).

The cicada killers typically seen flying around the yard chasing people, pets or other wasps are males and are incapable of stinging.  Only females can sting and they very rarely do so.  Males chase other males away from the female 'hot spots'.  Females prefer sunny, well-drained, patchy locations to dig their hole for placing cicada bodies and lay their eggs.  Frequently, these holes will go under side walks, driveways, concrete porches or other structures that may accumulate heat during the day while limiting the amount of moisture that can be found in the surrounding soil. 

The best way to manage this insect is to encourage thick lawns and reduce weeds.  Also limiting bare ground or provide some cooling to the areas might help.  The various insecticides available for wasp control are options however the aerosols do not work well when sprayed in the holes.  For treating holes, an insecticidal dust (sevin dust, bifenthrin dust are examples) could be sprinkled around the entrance with the hopes a female gets enough of a dose.  This also does not work very well but is the best insecticide option available.  I am not aware of anyone conducting management research with this insect because it is not a pest.  In fact, the females are very beneficial because they fly through the landscape managing cicada populations each year. 

Hope this information helps.


Brian Kunkel Replied March 14, 2014, 8:53 AM EDT

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