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February 22, 2015

10 Facts about Cicada Killer Wasps

Filed under: Cicada Killer Wasps | FAQs — Dan @ 8:58 pm

Elias Bonaros Cicada Killer Wasp
Photo by Elias Bonaros. The Cicada Killer is focused on the cicada, and not bothered by Elias’ finger.

Every now and then someone will email me about “a giant bee attacking a cicada”. These are not bees, these are Cicada Killer Wasps. Now is a good time to write about them because Prof. Chuck Holliday is now retired and has shut down his Cicada Killer Wasp website 1.

Here are 10 facts about Cicada Killer Wasps for you to enjoy:

  1. Yes, these wasps kill cicadas1. it works like this:
    1. The adult female wasp will paralyze the cicada with her venomous sting.
    2. The wasp will carry the cicada to a burrow, where it will place the cicada.
    3. The wasp will lay an egg under the left or right second leg of the cicada.
    4. The egg hatches and the larva begins to eat the cicada while taking care to keep it alive.
    5. Once the larva has had its fill, it spins a cocoon, in which it will change into an adult wasp.
  2. Female wasps are able to predetermine the sex of their larvae.1 They must do this because it takes more females to create new generations of wasps than it does males.
  3. Cicada Killer Wasps belong to the family Crabronidae Latreille, 1802; the tribe Bembicini Latreille, 1802 and the genus Sphecius Dahlbom, 1843 2. Crabronidae comes from the Latin word for hornet, Bembicini comes from the Greek word for buzzing insect, and Sphecius is from the Greek word for wasp.
  4. Not all Sphecius wasps in the world kill cicadas, but all Sphecius in the New World (the Americas) do 3.
  5. If you haven’t seen a Cicada Killer Wasp, they are largely black and pale yellow wasps, and are often found carrying a cicada (see image on this page).
  6. Cicada Killer Wasps are often confused with European Wasps (Vespa crabro). European Wasps are a more vibrant yellow color and feature more yellow than black. They also belong to an entirely different family of wasp: Vespidae.
  7. There are five species of Cicada Killer Wasps in the Americas 3:
    • Sphecius convallis (Patton, 1879) aka the Pacific Cicada Killer, is found in the U.S.A. and Mexico.
    • Sphecius grandis (Say, 1824), the Western Cicada Killer, is found in the U.S.A. Mexico and parts of Central America.
    • Sphecius hogardii (Latreille, 1809 aka the Caribbean Cicada Killer, is found in Florida and Caribbean countries.
    • Sphecius speciosus (Drury, 1773) aka the Eastern Cicada Killer, is found in Ontario, Canada, the U.S.A. Mexico and parts of Central America.
    • Sphecius spectabilis (Taschenberg, 1875) is found in South America.
  8. I know what you are thinking: are these terrifyingly large wasps a threat to human beings? The short answer is NO. They are so focused on cicadas or other Cicada Killer Wasps, that they could care less about you. Sure, if you step on one, squeeze one in your hand, or otherwise harass the insect, it might sting you. Unlike other wasps, it will not go out of its way to harm you. Play it safe, do not go near these wasps, particularly if you are allergic to stinging insects, or do not wish to be placed in a burrow with larvae tucked under your arm. That said, check out the video below of a Sphecius speciosus “mating ball” in Elias Bonaros’ hand:
  9. Some species of Cicada Killer Wasps show a preference for female cicadas (S. hogardii), and some seem to prefer male cicadas (S. grandis), but it is not clear why. You might think that these wasps will take more males than females because of the loud sound males cicadas make, but this is not the case 1.
  10. Cicada Killer Wasps (S. speciosus) will prey upon Magicicada periodical cicadas 3. There is a bit of a myth that Magicicada are able to avoid these wasps but that is not the case.

Bonus facts:


  1. The “Biology of cicada killer wasps | Prof. Chuck Holliday's www page at Lafayette College” website which is now archived at
  2. The ITIS listing for Sphecius Dahlbom, 1843.
  3. Holliday, C., Hastings, J., and Coelho, J. 2009. Cicada Prey of New World Cicada Killers, Sphecius Spp. (Dahlbom, 1843) (Hymenoptera: Crabronidae). Entomological News. 120:1-17.


I love this tweet featuring the cicada collection of a cicada killer wasp:

Note: Cicada Killers are not related to Asian Giant Hornets currently being discussed in the press (May 2020). Cicada Killers are native to the U.S., and relatively gentle creatures (unless you are a cicada). They belong to the same order (Hymenoptera), but that’s about it.

This photo features an Asian Giant Hornet (left, under glass) and a Cicada Killer Wasp (right, above the glass):
hornet compared to wasp

Lastly, here’s a recent video of a man subjecting himself to a Cicada Killer Sting to show that you shouldn’t fear them.


  1. Pat fox says:

    Do these wasps make noise while in the burrows at night? One of my older goldens are acting strange in my yard for nearly 2 months.

    1. Dan says:

      I am not sure about that.

  2. MaryKate says:

    we live on the central coast of NJ and this is our 3rd summer with cicada killers in the slope of our front yard grass. although frightening at first, we now are used to them and their fumbling ways. they seem to come close to humans as if only to inspect us. do you know anything about their eyesight? We think they come close to us to get a good look. But then they fly away going about their business. Harmless so far. We’ve learned to accept them.

    1. Brandon r says:

      Same here. I live on the colts neck tinton falls area my whole life and can confirm the last three years here have been lots of cicada hawks then ever.

  3. Pam says:

    I have these in my garden. Terrify me when I’m out there watering, pulling weeds or harvesting. Haven’t been stung yet and hope not to. I live in NE Missouri.

  4. Jen says:

    I am in Plymouth MA. And this is the second year these have appeared. Terrifying actually! Last August they showed up and now again, they fly directly into us if we are sitting outside. I know they say they are harmless but when flying directly at your face and making contact it’s definitely fearful.

    1. Linda smith says:

      Rochester Ma I have these too second year I have seen them. They are nesting in a sandy slope by my driveway. Can’t mow my grass there. They need to go.

  5. Bees says:

    I have 5 of these hovering over my in-ground sprinkler cover. Lifted my cover exposed the holes. I replaced the cover and sealed the opening hole with metal mesh. They are trapped inside. The ones on the outside however, will they dig new hole. Do the males dig??

    1. Dan says:

      Not sure what the males do other than mate with the females. The females do most of the work, killing, carrying and burying the cicadas.

  6. I saw this wasp for the first time at my sisters house . I was horrified at how big he was ! The next time i saw one was about 50 miles away from sis and someone told me what it was , what they did and even showed me his little sand cave up against a metal leg on the picnic table ! We hung out there all week and watched for her kill and finally saw her bring cicada into the burrow.

  7. Andy says:

    I used to kill these wasps on sight before I learned they were harmless; now I’m fascinated by them. I do plan filling in their holes in the fall; they are digging out the paver sand from beneath my driveway – I have literally swept up over five lbs of sand thus far.

    Today as I was watching a killer wasp meander about one of its burrows, another wasp of a different species climbed out. Their eyes met and the intruder immediately flew off. Amazing creatures.

  8. Catherine Tupper says:

    We have an invasion of Cicada Killer Hornets. They attack each other and Cicadas. They are taking over the hummingbird feeders. I keep filling a hanging water container with sugar water for the yellow hornets so the the hummers can sip in peace. We had honey bees but they disappeared when the Cicada hawks arrived. I have not been stung yet, but I generally refill the hummingbird feeders after dark when the hornets leave. I’m sure the Cicada Hornets serve some good purpose, but I don’t know what it might be.

    1. Robert Keyes says:

      I don’t want to kill the cicada killer, but they sure scare the shit out of me, how long do they live?

      1. Dan says:

        About a month.

  9. Sherri says:

    We found a cicada killer today in NH. First one. Didn’t know they were in New England. Any others in the area.

    1. Carolyn Ficalora says:

      I have hundreds in my lawn, in Mont Vernon for over 2 yrs,

      1. Monica Simpson-Mounger says:

        Water your grass more.

    2. Kelly says:

      I just saw one for the first time ever in southern New Jersey. I filmed it because it was so large and had never seen anything that large that look like a bee of some kind. I googled it with a photo to figure out what it was. It must have a burrow under my back deck because it had a cicada but it was too large to get through the gap in the steps. But at least I know now they’re harmless unless stepped on or grabbed, which is never do anyway!

    3. Jill says:

      I witnessed one digging a hole near a patio
      I’m my yard

  10. Aaron says:

    I’m in Rhode Island and have never encountered this type of insect before. The only scarier insect encounter I could perceive as likely being worse would be seeing a Terranchula in my house and then not being able to find it. I have well over a hundred holes (everywhere)..maybe two hundred and it is terrifying. They have taken over…driven out the bunnies, cats won’t walk through the yard…can’t mow. The kid mowing the lawn got stung, and screamed like he cut his foot off with the mower. I don’t like killing anything but I need help eradicating this total infestation.

  11. Bindy Frazier says:

    Just had my first encounter watching a cicada killer wasp hard at work paralyzing a cicada on my Kansas City glass deck door. Grateful for this educational blog!

  12. Jason says:

    I just started seeing these on my property last year.
    I saw my first one this year just last week. Now I have something digging into the small ant hills in my driveway cracks. The dug out holes are about .75 inches wide and an inch or two deep. I’ve never seen anything do this before.
    Will these go after ants as well?

    1. Dan says:

      Just cicadas.

      1. Jason says:

        Thank you!

  13. I don’t mind these critters but I noticed they are burrowing near my pool steps and am wondering can they do any damage to my pool liner from underneath I have an above ground pool? If not, I will leave them alone to go after the cicadas.

    1. I have had these Cicadas Killer Wasp along my driveway for years. Last year we noticed our driveway was cracking and sinking in spots. We had to hire an exterminator and pay someone to pour concrete where the holes were. Then we had to have concrete poured under our driveway to support it. . They can do a great deal of damage over time. We no longer have a lot of them but they have moved to my next door neighbor’s yard.

  14. Paul says:

    I was mowing the grass today and saw dozens of these on a neighbor’s tree. I’m pretty sure they are cicada killers but I can’t find any info that they would commonly be in a large group on a tree. I didn’t notice any going in holes of trees. Maybe they were eating the bark or sap? Any idea if this is a known behavior or if it must be a different kind of wasp?

    1. Dan says:

      Might be a different type of wasp or European Hornet.

    2. Dan says:

      Send a photo to if you have one.

    3. Thomas Mort says:

      Cicada Killers will congregate together on my large Lilac Bush. I read that they like the Lilac Bush because they eat the sap from the bush. I did not see any harm done to the Lilac Bush after 3 years ago there were roughly 50 of these Cicada Killers feasting on this one bush’s sap.

    4. Tim Faust says:

      Was it a lilac tree they are sucking the sap out of my lilac tree.they eat right where a knuckle of the branch is.

    5. Lisa says:

      They may have been the emerged young cicada killers that came out of a nest. They are solitary wasps and only eat cicadas

  15. Kim Lambergp says:

    Why are we getting cicadas and killer cicadas wasps again this year

    1. Dan says:

      You should get at least some cicadas and Cicada Killer Wasps every year.

  16. Sherry says:

    Excellent blog. I saw two today for the first time – not with any cicadas. I wasn’t sure what it was so googled bee/wasp/hornet and saw two possibilities. Checked them out when I came home and sure enough – it was a cicada killer. Then I found this post when trying to find out if they sting humans. I love the sound of cicadas – to me it is the sound of summer – but these insects (?) are very cool too!

    1. Kathy says:

      Sherry, I had never seen them before either and this past Saturday (7/16) was the first I had ever seen them, and there were 2! I contacted my cousin cause I knew he would know exactly what it was. No cicadas here in NW Ohio yet either!

  17. denny says:

    Good Blogg!!!

  18. i am not allowed to take my pet cicada inside so how do i keep it safe from these wasps?

    1. Dan says:

      Get a contraption like this:

      1. Heather says:

        Will they eat/harm lizards? I have a bunch of lizards in my garden where they have decided to burrow. I like my lizard family there!

        1. Dan says:

          Nope. If anything the lizards will eat them.

  19. jeff says:

    i am here fr school

    1. robbin says:

      me too at school rn fr wow i love me some cicada facts

  20. Flora Hyden says:

    Last summer 2020, I found the body of a dead Cicada Killer Wasp. Do you think I have more the following year in 2021? What’s the possibility of having a nest on my property?

    1. Dan says:

      Yes. They’re around every year.

  21. Christopher Pedersen says:

    All right it’s funny but they do multiply at some way of saying I would love to tell you they’re harmless but they haven’t bothered me but they do keep out trespassers trick or treaters the mail person…lol… Now I’m putting my foot down and I investigated more information of how to rid them from multiplying.. stay tuned because of my parents are elderly and I don’t need them to have an inferior going in and out of the house. But doing all my research they love Sandy grounds and Dusty grounds so keep it all wet… Until you find a p poison..

  22. Jane says:

    So do Male Cicada Killer Wasps actually kill Cicadas too? I’m curious since they obviously don’t have the capability of stinging and injecting venom like the Female. TIA!

    1. Dan says:

      No.Just the females.

      1. Jane says:

        Thank you!

  23. Judy says:

    What critter would dig up cicada wasps burrows and why? There are several nests/burrows near a pathway in my garden and this morning when I looked outside the dirt around the top of each burrow had been greatly disturbed/moved around, and several of the entrance holes were much much much larger than normal. I’m in piedmont North Carolina.

    1. Dan says:

      Opossums, raccoons.

      1. Judy says:

        Do they eat the wasps, or the cicadas and any larvae that’s inside the nest?

        1. Dan says:

          They’re omnivores, so they probably eat the larvae and the cicada.

  24. karen says:

    San Antonio, Texas here, I too encountered these this summer going under my back deck. I do not like them they have bombed my dachshund because he was walking on the deck, we have poured 6 bottles of bleach through the cracks on deck, it deterred them but only to find other entrances. First time I have ever seen them, had to research to even find out what they are. Yikes they scare me so afraid one will get tangled in my hair as I am watering

  25. Susan Ewing says:

    I have to say I’m impressed. First time I have ever seen one. I was outside taking pictures of blue winged wasps and heard it fall from the tree. Bee and circada. I watched the bee drag that thing up my maple tree! It struggled but wow! Of course I photographed the whole thing. I was half scared but totally intrigued!

    1. Mike Smith says:

      I live in Atlanta ga was walking my dog and saw burrows looked closer and 🐝 peeked right out immediately googled what I saw and here I am. There are like 8 or more freshly dug burrows back there should I be concerned? Intrigued and scary to just stumble upon

  26. Pat says:

    We saw our first one last week, here in central NC. It was struggling to carry a large cicada and was stinging it, right in front of our glass door. I took pity on the poor cicada (which I find fascinating) and banged the door into them just enough for the wasp to drop it. The wasp hovered angrily looking around for its prey and finally flew off. A few minutes later the cicada was gone. So wether it wasn’t yet paralyzed enough and later flew off, the wasp came back and got it or something else did, I’ll never know.

  27. Chelsea says:

    I have about 17 nests in my yard and no matter what I do I can’t get rid of them any suggestions? Personally I can’t get to close to them I’m highly allergic to all bees but I have people that have been helping but nothing seems to work.

  28. DON says:

    I’m in Ohio, next year is this area’s year for locust. I just watched one on my front porch eat the head off of a large dragonfly.

  29. Matt says:

    Thank you for maintaining this page! Just now I was wondering what was making a new hole in my yard (in northern Delaware), when the wasp crash landed right in front of me, hugging a cicada. She walked it over to the hole and down they went. I did not know such things existed. What a world.

  30. Crawjam says:

    We live in a newer 2-story house in Cleveland GA. Yesterday I went into the upstairs bathroom and found a swarm flying around in there. Must have came in through the fan/vent. I went to Lowes and bought some hornet killer and went back into the bathroom. They were all bunched up near the window and I was able to kill them all rather easily. Counted 59 dead wasps. We get a few every year flying around at night near our porch lights, that’s normal. Invading our house? Freaky.

    1. Crawjam says:

      My bad. They weren’t cicada killers. They are very large yellowjackets. They chewed a hole through the drywall ceiling in the shower.

      1. Bruce Bogart says:

        Eww! I hate yellowjackets.

  31. Jean says:

    Do they eat tomatoes? They have burrows in my raised vegetable beds and lately my tomatoes are being eaten by something other than birds. These beds are covered by mesh with approximately 1″ openings. The tomatoes are attacked only when they begin to turn pink. At times the wasps are swarming around the area.

    1. Sunny says:

      Could it be tomato hornworms that are eating your tomatoes? They blend in well with the green stems and leaves on the tomato plants.

  32. David Doniger says:

    We have large shiny green ones, burrowing in our garden in Washington DC. Have seen them carrying cicadas. But they are shiny, metallic-looking, about 2 inches long, several inch wingspan. Same species?

  33. Karen Latham says:

    Reading so many people wanting to kill them makes me sad. Though I guess I don’t have much of a problem with them. I only noticed one because I found it dead just now with half it’s body ate away.
    I used lens to learn what it was and found this site. I was trying to learn what killed it.
    I’m the weirdo that actually enjoys finding new bugs in my gardens.

    1. Alice says:

      I felt that way about the cicadas killer wasps a few years ago when just a few appeared and we did not take action. Bad mistake. Our yard is now covered in holes the wasps scare the kids away from swing set and we can’t sit outsourcing the day!

  34. Roger says:

    These insects are the “good guys”! Why are people obsessed with killing them!? The earth has lost a huge number of insects in the past few decades. Birds rely on these bugs for food! It’s gotten so bad that bird population world wide is down by over one billion! Stop killing insects because you think they might bother you!

  35. Courtney Block says:

    I wonder if the cicada killer would attack locust in Africa where they are having such a prolem.

  36. Kathy says:

    How do you get rid of them? Is there a sure fire way? Thank you!

  37. jim f says:

    there are so many and there so big

  38. Loge says:

    I used to pour water into the burrow until the female climbed out and either kill it or catch it in a jar. This was my daily chore as a kid during the summer

  39. ROSIE says:

    Oops, sorry -typos. Typing to fast on phone..

  40. ROSIE says:

    I just witnessed a killer wasp wtestlibg with the huge cicada under my pine….she was dragging it quickly toward ny shed, byt i chucked a pibe cone at her, and she flew away but returned. I went inaide to look up this phenomenon, and when i returned, the cicada, all intact, was left on the ground?? Why, because I interrupted her for a minute ? I thought shed be back by now..

  41. Angela Unrath says:

    Do the Cicada Killers have any natural predators, other than Cindy’s dog? Just curious 🙂

  42. Nely K says:

    We just witnessed our first wrestling between cicadas and cicadas killer wasps, the later won! We were terrified! 😂 I got it on video

  43. Cindy Gibbs says:

    My darn dog keeps killing them! I can’t stand the sound of cicadas. I wished I knew how to attack them.

    Why so many comments about killing them. Did you not read the article?

  44. Jane L says:

    I’m seeing these in my backyeard in CT for the first time ever. Now that I know they won’t harm humans, I’m OK with them, but — are they just going to become more and more plentiful year after year? Or do they only show up every 17 years, like cicadas?

    1. Dan says:

      They show up every year, but they might be more plentiful some years than others depending on how many reproduced the following year, the weather and other factors.

      1. JaneL says:


    2. John Dominik says:

      I have thousands of these between my house and my neighbors. I have kept my lawn higher and water it every day. This really works to keep them from nesting in my yard, but my neighbor has at least 200 nests that I can see. (Just in the grass). They are going to try an exterminator and hopefully practice the preventative measures I took. I have video if you’re interested

      1. Alice says:

        Old send me video. We are overwhelmed with them.

  45. Maxwell says:

    Just saw 2 of these going at each other the other day in Brooklyn NY.

    I knew they weren’t giant Asian hornets but they were huge so I was a little spooked.

    They have this weird long tapered butt section….

    Glad to hear they dont go for humans.

    Will send pics if you’d like

  46. Katrina says:

    When will these dang things leave!!!??? I’ve had several since June 25th! Thanks, Katrina

  47. John Martin says:

    There are very many of their burrows in the greens of the golf course that I play at in North Alabama. Cry damaging to the greens

  48. Bill J says:

    I vividly remember the first time I witnessed one of these beauties take down a cicada. I watched her sting the cicada repeatedly and then could swear that she ate the cicada, much like a praying mantis will eat a grasshopper, leaving behind the legs and head. But everything I have read says that they do not eat the cicadas but take them back to their burrow. Am I somehow misremembering this? This was in the days before
    smart phones or I definitely would have videoed it.

    1. Bruce Bogart says:

      @Bill J. No, you remember it just the way it happened. The wasp wasn’t a cicada killer. It was some disgusting big hornet that lived only to terrorize and kill!

  49. Lisa J says:

    I have had Cicada Killer Wasps in my yard every summer for about 3 years, always in my flower garden. The unfortunate thing is that they seem to run away the other types of bees, bumble bees, etc. Is this usually what happens? They are a bit intimidating…

  50. Sarah B says:

    I just heard a cicada SCREAMING and I went to look at where it was and saw this scary looking thing on it…. at first I thought it was a killer hornet so I had to look it up…. thankful I came across this article!!!!!!! Live in Lehigh Valley, PA….we have lots of cicadas here!!!!!!

    1. Jonathan E says:

      Hi Sarah! I am from your area in PA, just witnessed one of these girls taking TWO to her nest outside my house. Was also interested.

      Hope you’re enjoying the Keystone State!

      1. Mike says:

        Just had to look it up myself. See about 2 fly by at least multiple times a day. First I’m seeing them though.

  51. Victoria says:

    They seem to just fly around and play they don’t seem to bother anybody but how long do they stay for a season do they just disappear in The end of August?

  52. Kimberley says:

    I have noticed many of these around my house recently. I was worried about them being killer wasps until I came across this article. I saw one today with a cicada pulling it down what I thought was an ant hill in the yard. Is this normal for the area? I live in Maryland.

    1. Dan says:

      It’s totally normal.

  53. Vicky O says:

    I just saw one on the back of a cicada coming out of the ground and climbing up an oak tree. It was too fast to photograph and moved up the tree quickly. I thought then dragged them to their burrow not up the tree? Could it have been the cicada was still alive and trying to escape? It was interesting and sad at the same time.

    1. Cicada Killer says:

      Cicada killer wasps will often get tired carrying the cicadas, so they’ll climb trees to have a higher jump-off point for flying the last bit to their nest.

    2. C says:

      Cicadas live in the ground. Then climb trees after they undergo metamorphosis (break out of their exoskeleton). Now having wings to fly.

  54. Sandra says:

    I get 100’s swarming right about this time of summer (Mid July) Its always at the same location in my yard. Its an area around 15 ft. and has been happening now for about 4 years. I walk right through them and they have never bothered me. My chickens have actually learned to “stand by” and wait for one with a Cicada and steal it from them. I was wondering why the same location? Is there something special that drawls them to that section year after year? In live in central PA.

    1. Sam says:

      I’d read that strong pheromone scents emanate from their burrows and that’s what draws the new ones back year after year. Last year I diligently pumped vinegar into every burrow I saw — there were over a hundred of them. This year, I’ve only spotted about 10 new burrows, and immediately pumped them full of vinegar as well. They don’t like the smell of the vinegar and it seems to interfere with their homing system guided by the pheromone scents. I also began pumping Delta dust into their burrows last year and continued doing it this year. The combination of smacking them with a tennis racket and using the vinegar and Delta dust has been surprisingly effective, although it’s time consuming. It’s worth it though. One year our infestation got so bad they wouldn’t deliver our mail.

      1. Terry Harkey says:

        I stopped trying to kill them (we were gone during most of the summer) for the last 2 years and I was greeted with HUNDREDS of them this July. I went back to my tried and true killing technique. I use a 16″ butterfly net and catch them in the net and swing the net yard to the ground and step on the bugger until i hear a snap. I have killed well over 300 this July. I cannot treat the holes because it is UNDER my deck. They can get to their holes, but I cannot. It’s also pretty good exercise! haha

        1. Linda Beymer says:

          Thank you Terry for a laugh where these buggars are concerned. OMG! I don’t have hundreds of them that I’m dealing with but I do have less now, thank God!
          I had a problem with my postal person not delivering mail one summer so I began learning what to do about them.
          I shot a good amount of hornet killer down the hole and sealed the entrance by pounding a rock into it.
          I’ll be going to Home Depot to get Bifen LP granules, and Delta Dust. I like the tip about vinegar. I have lots if that on hand!

      2. Michael Blondell says:

        Why do you kill them? They dont sting people unless you deserve it. Let nature do its job. Humans insist on killing everything. One day it will all be gone. Your & my children will have nothing left except the poor animals in zoos. I used to kill them too. Then i realized how dumb i was. Now i look forward to their return every summer.

        1. helen says:

          Where I live, neighbors will report you. I do not go In My backyard anymore. I have a lawn guy mow and that’s it. They were not there last week. I did spray the hornet and wasp stuff but it did nothing.

        2. Natasha says:

          After reading most comments I decided not to do anything, UNLESS, they KCW were interfering with me getting to my door and/or sitting outside my door on the porch. I was gone for only one week mid August and there they were, digging away at least a dozen in one day. The thought of them laying eggs in the burrow and coming back 10 fold same time next year was unsettling as I am highly allergic to their sting. Survival of the fittest. I am not willing to subject myself to anaphylactic shock because nature is doing it’s thing. They are attached to the porch light as I found out the hard way. I’m lucky I didn’t get stung. So now I keep extra amount of dishwashing liquid and vinegar around and have made it a daily ritual of killing the buggers by my door. Stay far away from me and I will let you be.

          1. Natasha says:

            Yes it’s time consuming and I’m considering an exterminator; however, from what I read they are a one shot deal. Purchasing a case of dishwashing liquid, and/or Delta Dust is cheaper than an exterminator. Oh and they re attached to the porch light. Imaging my surprise when I reached in to turn the bulb off and there were two of them there just hanging out.

  55. Mjonczak says:

    The 17 year cicada are NOT available in our area, BUT are 100 south of us. What do the cicada killers eat when there’s no cicada to eat?

    1. Dan says:

      They primarily eat annual species of cicadas, not the 17 year variety. Neotibicen like Morning Cicadas are their favorites.

  56. Gary says:

    I’m sure you mean to say you COULDN’T care less, right?

    1. Julie says:

      Thank you, I was annoyed by that too 🤣

  57. Lindy rodgers says:

    We have a large pine tree by our home under which cicada come out of each year. Not just one or two but 30 or 40! I count the cicada exoskeletons that line the branches. We are frequently visited by skunks at night that I assume did up the larvae? I like to shine my flashlight thru the window to get a glimpse of the skunk at work. Tonite I saw a cicada killer hovering around above where the cicadas burrow up thru the ground. I was very surprised to see one at night! Are they nocturnal and are there burrows in the same area that the cicadas hatch?

    1. Dan says:

      Not sure, but it would be a good time for them to grab a cicada.

  58. Linda says:

    What I thought might be a Cicada Killer I saw taking a small grasshopper into her subterranean burrow. I am in Houston, TX. Do Cicada Killers sometimes hunt other insects? I originally thought it was a hornet, but I wasn’t able to find information about any subterranean hornets in my area.

    1. Dan says:

      @Linda I’ve heard that they occasionally, accidentally grab another type of insect, but I’ve never seen visual proof.

  59. Mandi Veltin says:

    I have some Black Swallowtail caterpillars in the area, will the wasps get them? I have seen them bring grasshoppers into the burrow before.

    1. Dan says:

      @Mandi, I am not sure, but hopefully not. I only know about them relative to cicadas.

  60. Do they harm honey bees or their nests. I live in Southern B.C.- Canada- never even heard of them here till now that the Japanese Killer wasps are a thing. Someone said they destroy bees hives- I wish to either accept or offer proof that it isn’t so.

    1. Dan says:

      @Andrea, no. Cicada Killers are solely interested in Cicadas. It sounds like they’re talking about Asian Giant Hornets which the press has been calling Murder Hornets.

  61. Jim says:

    I love these things, so happy to get info on them. I had ones burrow blocked and she banged against my head a few times, with a cicada under her belly, when I moved she went into her nest. Have seen no reason to kill them.

    1. Terry Harkey says:

      If you had over 300 of them swarming your deck all summer long you’d feel differently. My friends won’t come over in June and July (part of August) and I didn’t move to the lake to be alone. I kill as many and as quickly as I can.

  62. Gayle says:

    Anyone who says these things are harmless has obviously never been stung by one. We had several mounds in our yard in Richmond, VA, years ago (luckily, we have moved since then), and scores of cicada killers. A friend was stung, when he leaned against a railing, and the five inch sting site turned necrotic in two days. He said it was horribly painful. When we described what we had to the exterminator, he came in a hazmat suit to spray the nests. Don’t assume they are harmless.

  63. JaNiece says:

    I just had one in my enclosed patio! I am HIGHLY allergic to wasp and bees. I sprayed him with wasp and hornet stuff and it didn’t kill him. Just made him very angry. Then I hit him with a fly seater 4 times and he STILL didn’t die! I have a brand new pool. Now I’m afraid to go out in my yard! He was HUGE!!

    1. Gena says:

      The only thing we have found that will kill them instantly is Raid Wasp and Hornet killer however the spray will kill your grass, flowers, and other plants if it accidentally gets on them. The spray is petroleum based and very toxic. Only use if absolutely necessary.

    2. Natasha says:

      I know this post is 2 years old put I had to comment. They buggers are hard to kill. Two of them were hanging out by my porch light door. I too am highly allergic. Sprayed yard gard directly into the light and it only stunned them. Them as they bumped around I sprayed them directly, still they did not die. Finally they fell to the ground, sprayed them again, still alive. I finally got the nerve to step on them, figured that would do it. NO!!!!! If your going to step on them it’s gotta be like putting out a fire. I felt like I was in a Marvel Comic Strip combatting Mutant Killer Wasps.

  64. charla Harrigan says:

    Bought a new home and seems they have a little kingdom in my backyard. what’s the best way to make them leave without harming them. They are multiplying this time of year and do net seem to want anything to do with us.

  65. Joyce Barton says:

    Do they make “nests” and live with other cicada wasps? Or are they solitary except when mating?

    1. Dan says:

      They’re described as “weakly social”. Many might share the same burrow, but they do no cooperate like other Hymenoptera.

  66. Craig says:

    I live in Illinois up against the IL River forest and I also have hundreds. Truly a buzz kill for back yard parties. No way I can find all their burrows, anything spray they don’t like smell of?

  67. James says:

    How do you tell a difference between these and Japanese hornet or any other hornet for that matter? What can you look for in them that are distinct? Thank you

    1. Dan says:

      I don’t know much about Japanese species. I recommend searching the web for a website about Japanese wasps and hornets. I do like the Suzumebachi (Asian Giant Hornet) and have one in my collection, but I don’t know much more than that.

  68. Fawn Holman says:

    How do you treat a sting

    1. Dan says:

      That I don’t know. Talk to a doctor.

  69. Bob says:

    Will cicada killers kill horse flies?

    1. Dan says:

      @Bob. I don’t think so. Flies are probably harder to catch. If you have a horse fly problem, you could make a horsefly trap

      1. Mitchell Herron says:

        I saw one catch a horse fly about an hour ago. My new best friend!

        1. PK says:

          That’s called a “horse guard” not a cicada killer

  70. Michelle says:

    Do cicada’s use the same hole the next year? I have a video of a wasp digging a hole and appears to pull out a casing of some sort.

    1. Dan says:

      The cicadas only use the hole once, because they die about a month after they emerge. The wasps paralyze the cicadas, lay their eggs on them, and then put the cicadas in the holes where the wasp larvae will feast on them.

      1. Jerry says:

        I have had them come back year after year for 20 years and use the same place in my yard.

  71. Jewel says:

    I have seen these kill horseflies and houseflies – horse people find these extremely beneficial and they do not sting people which is even better,

  72. JoAnn says:

    Very interesting about the cicada killer wasps. The cicada here in our area must be so lucky because I’ve never seen or heard of the wasps in our area. We will get an occasional cicada each year, but the big swarms come out from underground every 17 years. It is pretty loud for the several weeks they are here. They leave holes in the yard where they first burrowed out from, seem to kill the tips of tree branches, then mate, lay eggs that somehow get underground till the next 17 year cycle.

  73. Kat says:

    I have seen a couple of these in my back yard. Should I worry for my dog? He usually avoids buzzing things and I watch him while he is out there, but I am a worry wart of a dog mom.

  74. Dona says:

    What does these Cicada Killer Wasp live off of when there aren’t any Cucada’s?

    1. Dan says:

      They use the cicadas to feed their larvae. They might not feed at all. Some adult insects use their fat stores that they gained as larvae, which give them just enough energy to mate and spawn.

      I read this today about controlling them: “This can be done by eliminating or reducing the breeding area which usually consists of exposed, sandy soil. This area can be mulched or covered with grass. ” from

  75. Jo says:

    How do I chase them out of my yard? I have had these wasps every May through August and they make going outside impossible!

    1. Dan says:

      I wish I knew for your sake.

      You must have a lot of cicadas in your yard as well.

      1. Jo says:

        Hundreds! They happily buzz loudly all over and they scare people. I can mow right through the swarm with no problem, but the are creepy! I don’t want them dead, I just don’t want them hovering! It’s a constant swarm!

        1. Dan says:

          100’s wow! I’m intrigued.

          1. Jo says:

            I’ll send you a video if you tell me how. They love circling my dog.

          2. Dan says:

            Upload it to youtube and send the link to

    2. Tamara Giacomozzi says:

      We had them living under our lilac tree 2 years ago. Scared the crap out of me! Swarming like crazy we couldn’t even use our walkway. I called a great exterminator and he treated 2ce and no more problem. Apparently you have to spray right into their burrows when they aren’t awake of course.

  76. Rene says:

    Will there be any hatching in Jefferson County NY near Lake Ontario?

    1. Dan says:

      Jefferson County NY. Just in Long Island.

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