Coming across a Cicada Killer Wasp is certainly fear-inducing, especially considering this wasp’s massive size. However, unlike many other wasps, the Cicada Killer Wasp is actually quite docile. Furthermore, her sting is less painful than much smaller wasps like yellow jackets or hornets.
And while they can be beneficial, the Cicada Killer Wasp can wreak havoc in large numbers to gardens and landscaping, leading many homeowners to look for methods of removal.
So, how do you get rid of a Cicada Killer Wasp? That’s what we’re here to find out. But before we begin, let’s take a moment to understand this fascinating arthropod.
What Is A Cicada Killer Wasp?
Cicada Killer Wasps can grow up to 2 inches, with the female usually being two times larger than the male.
Also referred to as the Cicada Hawk, the Eastern Cicada Killer Wasp, or simply the Cicada Killer, the Cicada Killer Wasp is a solitary wasp scientifically known as Sphecius Speciosus. This large wasp belongs to the digger wasp species, and is known for burrowing into mounds of dirt to build their nests and lay their eggs.
This digging action can cause damage to flowers and gardens, and even lead to lawn death in certain regions. Cicada Killer Wasps are quite solitary and territorial, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find a plethora of these insects in your yard, especially if you have a lot of Cicadas around.
However, while these wasps are generally terrifying due to their size and appearance, they are actually rather reclusive. They stick to themselves and will not attack people unless they feel provoked. Even then, only female Cicada Killer Wasps can sting, and their sting is much less painful than most other wasp stings.
The Cicada Killer Wasp gets its name from the prey it hunts. That’s right – Cicada Killer Wasps hunt those pesky Cicadas. However, adult Cicada Killer Wasps don’t eat Cicadas. Instead, adult Cicada Killer Wasps, like many other bees and wasps species, are beneficial pollinators that feed on flower and plant nectar. Instead, it’s the Cicada Killer Wasps grubs that feast on Cicadas.
The life stages of a Cicada Killer Wasp are pretty interesting, as these wasps spend the majority of their adult lives caring for their young. Upon mating, the male Cicada Killer Wasp soon dies and the female gets to work looking for a Cicada.
Once she captures the Cicada, the female wasp stings the insect, injecting it with her venom, which places the Cicada in a paralyzing coma.
The female Cicada Killer Wasp then flies away with the still living but paralyzed Cicada to her burrow, where she lays a single egg on the Cicada. When the egg hatches, the grub then feasts on the Cicada for up to two weeks. Once it’s finished, it creates a web-like cocoon and overwinters for the next several months.
Then the process begins again when the newly formed Cicada Killer Wasp emerges from the ground to mate and hunt new Cicadas.
The below video goes into more detail about the interesting and beneficial qualities of a Cicada Killer Wasp.
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Unfortunately, the Cicada Killer Wasp can reproduce rapidly and cause a multitude of problems in your yard. Furthermore, these wasps are often confused for hornets, and vice versa.
Hornets are more aggressive than Cicada Killer Wasps and their sting can be incredibly painful. For this reason, it’s best to simply leave these insects to their own devices until you’re certain of what you are dealing with.
How To Identify A Cicada Killer Wasp
One of the easiest ways to identify a Cicada Killer Wasp is to catch one flying off with a Cicada.
The Cicada Killer Wasp is rather formidable to look at, but this wasp really isn’t aggressive or dangerous. However, as we mentioned above, some of the other hornets it resembles and is often mistaken for can be.
So, how do you know for sure you are dealing with a Cicada Killer Wasp? Well, there are a few ways to identify this flying insect without getting stung.
First and foremost, one of the easiest ways to determine if you’re dealing with a Cicada Killer Wasp is to catch it in action with a Cicada. As we mentioned above, the Cicada Killer Wasp is named for its Cicada killing tendencies.
If you catch a large wasp flying around with a Cicada, that’s a sure sign you’re dealing with a Cicada Killer Wasp. You can also identify the Cicada Killer Wasp by its size, coloring, and it’s burrowing habits.
Cicada Killer Wasp Size: Up to 2 inches in length, with females being two times larger than males.
Cicada Killer Wasp Coloring: Black and yellow, with reddish orange wings and legs. They are often confused for incredibly large Yellow Jackets.
Cicada Killer Wasp Nest: The Cicada Killer Wasp nest looks like a mound of dirt that can be 1.5 inches to 2 inches tall and wide. These nests have a single hole in the center.
What Has Attracted A Cicada Killer Wasp To Your Yard?
These wasps are solitary digger wasps, and are attracted to areas with loose sand or soil in which to build their nests.
Like most wasps and bees, the Cicada Killer Wasp is attracted to areas with a good food source for both them and their young. In particular, the Cicada Killer Wasp is going to be most active near areas where Cicadas commonly emerge.
These wasp nests are generally found in and around:
- Golf courses and sand traps
- The borders of sidewalks or driveways
- In gardens
- Sandy playground areas
- Hills with sparse or spotty vegetation
The Cicada Killer Wasp is also going to look for soil that is easy to dig through to make their nests. This is one of the reasons they prefer dry, sandy areas, patchy lawns, and other areas of spotty or sparse vegetation.
Cicada Killer Wasps nest usually starts out looking like a C shaped mound of dirt, and ends looking like a small mound with a hole in the center, like we mentioned above.
However, you are more likely to run into the Cicada Killer Wasp while she is foraging for food or looking for a Cicada to bring back to her nest. She will also often hang around gardens with plants and flowers, as this is where she will eat nectar, or you may find her on or near trees populated with Cicada insects.
How To Get Rid Of A Cicada Killer Wasp – Most Popular Methods
Getting rid of a Cicada Killer Wasp could include using a number of methods.
While the Cicada Killer Wasp isn’t dangerous and is relatively not aggressive, they can reproduce rapidly. Because they are digger wasps, their nests can become incredibly damaging to lawns, especially if you have a very large infestation of Cicada Killer Wasps on or around your property.
Luckily, there are a few different methods you can use to get rid of the Cicada Killer Wasp and their offspring, including using:
- Natural Repellents
- Home Remedies
How To Get Rid Of A Cicada Killer Wasp Using Natural Repellents
Natural repellents can often work just as well as chemical insecticides to control a Cicada Killer Wasp problem.
Once you’ve identified a Cicada Killer Wasp problem around your home, it’s important to take action using the methods that work best for you.
Natural Cicada Killer Wasp deterrents usually include sprays and dusts that contain non-chemical ingredients to deter these pests. Natural methods for pest control are usually preferred by organic gardeners, but they also may be ideal for those with children and pets in the home.
Usually, natural methods and repellents are safer for people and pets, and are less toxic to the environment. However, there are pros and cons to using natural repellents and insecticides. We should also note that even natural insecticides should only be used as directed and kept out of reach of children and pets.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of our favorite natural products you can use to get rid of the Cicada Killer Wasp.
MDXConcepts Organic Peppermint Oil Spray
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Though this is not an aerosol spray for Cicada Killer Wasps, it works as a great preventative for these pests. Best of all, this spray can also help kill and repel problematic Cicadas, which are likely attracting these wasps in the first place.
Because the spray is all natural, it is safe for people, pets and the environment and will not harm vegetation. You can spray it anywhere you have noticed Cicada Killer Wasp activity or even Cicada activity, and you can use it as often as needed.
EcoSmart Wasp and Hornet Killer
If you’re looking for an aerosol spray to protect you from the Cicada Killer Wasp, we would recommend the above hornet and wasp killer spray by EcoSmart. This spray specifically targets hornets and wasps like the Cicada Killer Wasp using natural ingredients like essential oils.
This is a non-toxic spray that is safe for people, pets and the environment and works effectively against a number of different hornets and wasps. In fact, this spray is 100% organic, making it an excellent choice for organic gardeners.
When using this spray, it is best applied anywhere you have noticed Cicada Killer Wasp activity. You can also spray this natural insecticide directly in the Cicada Killer Wasps’s nest.
EcoLogic Flying Insect Killer
Another aerosol spray you might be interested in for getting rid of the Cicada Killer Wasp is made by EcoLogic. Again, this is an all natural insecticide spray that uses essential oils to kill flying insects like wasps, hornets, mosquitoes and more. The main ingredients include clove oil, cinnamon oil, and cornmint oil, which are safe for people, pets and the environment.
Still, and as with all products on this list, this spray should be used only as directed and kept out of reach of children.
The spray kills adult Cicada Killer Wasps on contact and can also be sprayed directly into the nests to kill eggs and larva.
Wondercide Natural Pest Control Spray
Wondercide is one of our favorite all natural pest control products because it uses essential oils and safe ingredients that are effective and work quickly without harming people, pets or the environment.
When it comes to controlling the Cicada Killer Wasp, we recommend using the peppermint oil product, as peppermint oil repels both Cicadas and the wasps that hunt them.
HARRIS Diatomaceous Earth Crawling Insect Killer
Diatomaceous Earth, also known as DE, is one of the most popular forms of natural pest control because it is safe, effective, and is perfect for getting rid of ground-dwelling pests like the Cicada Killer Wasp.
DE is made of fossilized algae and works by penetrating the insect’s exoskeleton, which dehydrates and kills them. Because Diatomaceous Earth is a dust insecticide, it works well for targeting the Cicada Killer Wasp’s nest and eggs. The above order even includes a duster for easy application.
Best Home Remedies For How To Get Rid Of A Cicada Killer Wasp
Essential Oils like peppermint oil and citrus oil can help repel cicada Killer Wasps and even Cicadas.
If you like the idea of using natural repellents and products for Cicada Killer Wasp removal, then chances are you’ll also be interested in using home remedies. When it comes to do it yourself pest control for any pest problem, it’s important to ensure you do a bit of research on the pest in question in order to treat the problem properly.
When it comes to the Cicada Killer Wasp, there are several household ingredients you likely already have in your home pantry or medicine cabinet that you can use to repel them.
Take a look.
Essential Oils To Repel Cicada Killer Wasps
Essential oils work to repel a number of pests, including mice, bed bugs, ants, roaches, spiders, and of course wasps and bees. One of the most popular essential oils you can use when it comes to repelling the Cicada Killer Wasp include:
- Peppermint Oil
- Cedar Oil
- Geranium Oil
- Lemon Oil
- And Clove Oil
DIY Essential Oil Cicada Killer Wasp Repellent Spray
There are several different ways you can go about using essential oils to get rid of the Cicada Killer Wasp and other pests causing you problems, but one of our favorites is the essential oil pest control spray you can make right there at home.
- 1 spray bottle
- 2 cups of water
- 15 – 20 drops of the essential oil of your choice above
Combine all of the ingredients in the spray bottle and shake the bottle to combine them thoroughly. Then spray this solution anywhere you have noticed Cicada Killer Wasp activity. This should include nesting sites and even trees where you have noticed Cicada insects as well.
However, remember that some essential oils can be very powerful and potentially harm plants and yards, so do some research before spraying an essential oil spray directly on vegetation. It’s also best to spray this during dusk or dawn, when the Cicada Killer Wasp is less active.
DIY Essential Oil Cicada Killer Wasp Repellent Cotton Balls
Another easy way to go about repelling the Cicada Killer Wasp, (and perhaps a safer way), is to use cotton balls.
- A bag of cotton balls
- The essential oils of your choice
Saturate individual cotton balls in the essential oils of your choice and then place these soaked cotton balls around your yard and potential nesting sites. These cotton balls will not only help repel Cicada Killer Wasps, but also Cicadas they are attracted to.
In order for this method to work, you will need to replace the cotton balls with freshly soaked cotton balls every two to three days.
DIY Dish Soap And Water Cicada Killer Wasp Repellent Spray
Dish soap kills flying insects by saturating their bodies and suffocating them. It also stops them from flying, so this is a good method for anyone who perhaps has an allergy to insect stings or has a fear of flying insects.
- 2 Cups of water
- 1 Spray Bottle
- 5 to 10 Drops of liquid dish soap
- 10 Drops of the essential oil of your choice (optional)
Combine the above ingredients in the spray bottle and shake the bottle until the water is sudsy. You can then spray any areas where you have noticed Cicada Killer Wasp activity or directly on any Cicada Killer Wasps you come across.
Not only will the soapy water stop these wasps in their tracks, but it will also repel any future wasps coming around after them, thanks to the added essential oil.
How To Get Rid Of A Cicada Killer Wasp With Insecticides
Many popular insecticides can work to kill the Cicada Killer wasp and their eggs.
One of the most popular forms of Cicada Killer Wasp control includes the use of common insecticides. However, it’s important to keep in mind that, if not used correctly, insecticides can be toxic to people and pets and can be especially hard on the environment.
When using insecticides, be sure to use a product that is specifically designed to monitor and eradicate wasps, and aim for insecticides that will not harm beneficial insects like honey bees and ladybugs.
It’s also important to make sure you read the directions and use chemical insecticides only as directed. Of course, always keep insecticides out of reach of children and pets.
Spectracide Pro Wasp and Hornet Killer
One of the most popular insecticide products for getting rid of the Cicada Killer Wasp is a spray by Spectracide. This spray uses the active ingredient Permethrin to kill pests like wasps, roaches, ants, and crickets for up to 16 weeks.
This product is water-based and kills on contact. It should be applied to areas where you have noticed the most Cicada Killer Wasp activity, including inside the nest if you can find it.
Remember, because this is a chemical insecticide, it can be toxic to people and pets if not used as directed.
Hot Shot Hornet And Wasp Killer
Another product that kills Cicada Killer Wasps on contact is made by Hot Shot. This is an aerosol product that can reach up to 27 feet, so you don’t have to get too close to the wasps. This product is also designed to destroy eggs and larva in the nest, which is a plus.
The spray can further help get rid of Cicadas, scorpions, tent caterpillars and more. It comes in a non-staining formula and is designed for outdoor use only. Again, like most wasp and hornet sprays, you should apply this where you notice most Cicada Killer Wasp activity and only apply it at dawn or dusk.
Last, we have Delta Dust. Delta Dust is an excellent insecticide dust to use when dealing with a number of Cicada Killer Wasp nests, because you simply pour the dust into the nest and then close it up.
Because this is a dust insecticide, it can be harmful to people and pets if inhaled or ingested. Use it only as instructed and keep it out of reach of children and pets.
How To Get Rid Of A Cicada Killer Wasp – When To Call A Professional
Though solitary, Cicada Killer Wasps are very large and they reproduce quite rapidly, making them very problematic for some home owners.
The Cicada Killer Wasp is a solitary wasp that lives and nests alone. There is also only one generation of Cicada Killer Wasps each season, as these wasps spend several months of their lives overwintering in their nests as larva.
In spite of this, Cicada Killer Wasps are prolific reproducers. Furthermore, many people take care of adult wasps, not realizing that eggs have already been laid below ground, and this simply leads to another problem the next season.
If you find that you cannot get rid of your Cicada Killer Wasp problem, it may be a good idea to contact a professional. Progressions generally charge between $150 and $300 for Cicada Killer Wasp removal, and should also be able to help you pinpoint the source of your problem.
Once you’ve managed to get a handle on the Cicada Killer Wasps, your next focus should be on prevention.
How To Prevent Future A Cicada Killer Wasp In Your Home
Reducing the number of Cicadas around your property can help prevent future Cicada Killer Wasps.
Preventing pests is usually easier and less expensive than trying to get rid of an infestation. When it comes to the Cicada Killer Wasp, this is no exception. To prevent your yard from becoming a nesting ground for these intimidating insects, your first focus should be on getting rid of Cicadas.
However, along with getting rid of the Cicadas around your home, there are other steps you can take to prevent a Cicada Killer Wasp problem in the future.
Keep Your Lawn Healthy and Reduce Spotty Vegetation
Remember, the Cicada Killer Wasp is attracted to dry soil and sand, and other spotty areas in your yard or around your property where they can easily build their nests. By keeping your lawn healthy and reducing patchy areas, you are reducing any potential nesting spots.
Get Rid of Sandy Areas, Dry Soil Areas, and Playground Sand
The Cicada Killer Wasp is also attracted to the kinds of sand you might use around your child’s play area in the backyard. Dry soil and sandy areas in general can lead to a Cicada Killer Wasp nest, so reduce these areas as much as possible.
Plant Wasp-Repellent Plants In Your Garden
Adult Cicada Killer Wasps feed on plant and flower nectar, which means they’ll likely be buzzing around your garden if you have them. To keep them at bay, reduce their food sources and make your garden less attractive to them by companion planting wasp-repellent plants.
Some wasp-repellent plants you can incorporate in your garden include:
- And Marigolds
Remove Potential Cicada Killer Wasp Nests You Find Around Your Property
Destroy the nests as you find them to ensure the larva inside does not grow and become a problem for you again next season. Of course, do this carefully as you don’t want to get stung. While the Cicada Killer Wasp is known to be docile, this wasp will still sting if it feels threatened.
Invite the Wasp Predators
There are plenty of predators that feast on Cicada Killer Wasps, and this can be an excellent form of natural pest control if used correctly. Most Cicada Killer Wasp predators include birds, frogs, lizards, toads, and turtles.
Use A Routine Pest Control Method Year Round
Last but not least, make sure you use a proper pest control method year-round to protect your home from pests like the Cicada Killer Wasp as well as Cicada insects.
So, now that you know how to get rid of the Cicada Killer Wasp, we want to hear from you. Have you ever seen this wasp and thought it was a giant hornet? Share your stories with us about the Cicada Killer Wasp in the comment section below.
Thanks for reading!
Jack founded our blog after two decades of working in the pest control industry. His vast experience dealing with a wide array of pests allows him to diagnose issues quickly and get to the heart of pest problems quickly and effectively. He has serviced more than 2,000 homes over his career and there is hardly any pest situation that he has not seen before.